The camp where I am speaking is set under pines at the base of the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. When I finished my chapel message the other night the campers all headed off to their cabins. The sun was still over the tops of the trees in the western sky. I made a spontaneous decision to watch the sun set on Lake Michigan. I took my Bible to the Lodge where I was staying, changed clothes quickly, and drove strait west to the little village of Empire on the coast.
I arrived at nine and parked at the mouth of the Empire Bluff Trail. The trail is three-quarters of a mile long but seems longer because it climbs and descends a number of hills on its way to the bluff. I jogged past a family of other walkers wanting to get to the shore before the sun set.
In the five years I have lived in this part of Michigan, I don’t even remember two days in a row of oppressive heat. But it had been hot and humid for nearly two weeks. That day, however, the temperature dropped, the humidity lifted, and a wonderful breeze carried the fresh smell of the lake through the woods. I was comfortable in my favorite sweatshirt and long pants even on a brisk walk.
Toward the end of the trail a boardwalk lay on the sand up over the last rise in the trail and then, through an opening in the trees, the Lake came into view. My first view of the lake after an absence is always breathtaking. The sun was still over the water when I reached the bluff. I found a place in the sand to sit and drink in the beauty of on-coming night. To my left, high in the sky was a clearly visible moon, the west-facing half of it reflecting the sun, God’s “faithful witness” in the sky. The sky was clear and blue with only a few wispy clouds south of were the sun was setting. To the south the shore jutted out into the Lake. Not a single man-made structure was in sight anywhere.
To the north was South Manitou Island, really much larger than I remembered it. Looking down to the north I could see the Empire beech and remembered an early September night a few years ago and the joy of watching the children body-surfing as the sun descended the sky.
I found myself wishing I could have shared the beauty of the sunset with those I love. For just a moment I could identify in a very small measure with those who have only their loneliness as a constant companion. I was grateful, though for a quiet evening of fellowship with the Lord.
I love places of worship, cathedrals in Europe fascinate me, country chapels charm me, village churches are dear to my heart. My own church, where for a few years it is my delight to be a Herald of God is one of the sweetest places on earth to me. And no one can call themselves a devoted and obedient follower of Jesus who neglects the church for which He gave his life, but I am sure they will never build a place that inspires worship like the place where I sat that night my thoughts captured by things eternal.
Something about the human soul craves meditation on the majesty of God displayed in the magnitude of oceans and mountains and the vastness and beauty of sky over the sea at dusk.
(From Stonebridge Newsletter – Number 45)