"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) I can testify to the truth of this Scripture. God knows what is in our hearts, and He cares about what we carry there. For years I have carried the desire to visit Alaska in my heart. He knew it and put together a plan that would allow me to realize this desire. Along with my husband, I spent the middle two weeks of July in an environment that stunned us. Author of the book Alaska - Saga of a Bold Land, Walter Boreman, describes the landscape this way: "What you notice first, and what remains with you long afterward, is the scale. Here is a land where superlatives abound, and comparisons are few. Here is a land that dwarfs almost any wilderness you have known...Alaska is 615,230 square miles of rugged mountains, grinding glaciers, seemingly endless tundra, broad rivers, and rushing streams--larger than all but 17 of the world's countries..."
When I look back, it is hard for me to select a favorite location in this land of "Wows!" Our first stop in Fairbanks, Alaska, contained several treasures, my favorite being Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Here we found a huge field covered in the yellow flowers of the mustard plant. The majestic scene was framed in the back by mountains. We were entertained by a flock of Sandhill Cranes as we took in the landscape before us.
From Fairbanks we made our way southwest to Denali National Park that holds the crown jewel of mountains, Mt. Denali (or McKinley) with a height of 20,320 feet. The snowcapped peaks remain that way year-round, and on a clear day you can see them from miles away. We were told that only five percent of the visitors to Alaska get to view the top of the mountain as it is usually shrouded in clouds. On our day in Denali Park we started with clouds, but by mid-day they were lifting, and we had a glorious view of the snow-capped mountain.
Another treasure of the Alaskan wilderness is its many glaciers. We were able to see three of them in Glacier Bay National Park that can only be accessed via boat or plane. As we slipped into the Bay, mountains came down to meet the tropical-colored water. Since we came so close to the glaciers, we could feel the cool breezes from the ice. Over the years, these glaciers have advanced and then retreated again. Margerie Glacier calved (released a wall of ice into the water) as we were there. My favorite glacier, however, is Mendenhall Glacier, part of the Juneau Icefield. It sits at the back of Mendenhall Lake in Tongass National Forest. The blue spectrum of the rainbow appears in all the cracks of the glacier. That, against the white snow, makes for a magnificent landscape.
I have shared only a portion of our trip that has given us memories for a lifetime. But one cannot take all of this in without giving glory to the One who created it. I know from Scripture that God created the heavens and the earth with His spoken Word. I am overwhelmed with the scale and majesty of it! I want to leave you with verses from Psalm 65. "Praise awaits You...You who answers prayer, to You all people will come...God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth...who formed the mountains by Your power...The whole earth is filled with awe at Your wonders...The grassland of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing..."
Our hearts are full of awe as we have experienced such an awesome part of God's creation. It causes us to bow in worship, because not only has He made this, but has given us a new-found respect for Him that compels us to worship Him forever.
Joan E. Mathias