They are one of those last American frontiers of wilderness, these mysterious places that have triumphantly resisted many a pioneer effort to tame them. We drive north, and great stretches of land spiked with the craggy silhouettes of stunted spruce and feathery tamarack are all that meet the eye for miles. From the speed of the car window, it would seem that these trees are the only flora that manage to monotonously thrive amidst the swamp grasses. And inaccessible as they are, it can be a misconception difficult to prove otherwise. If you’re fortunate enough to traverse a bog walk, however, you will find out that beneath the feathery tamarack branches there are wonderful, amazing plants that thrive in the water-logged, acidic soil, plants that you will see nowhere else but here. There are strangely beautiful carnivorous plants……and rare exotic orchids named after legendary reptiles and dainty foot wear. There are humps of moss so lush and thick it looks like shag carpet, and delicate grasses that are growing cotton balls.There are cranberries, bunchberries and labrador tea.There are secret lakes of unknown depth, and pine cones in purple casings.It’s a whole new world of wonders, where even the more familiar flowers and berries manage to feel exotic if only for their tenacity to survive and thrive here.And who knows what else might lie beyond? The view a state park board walk lends is only a glimpse into this mysterious damp world of peat moss and uncertain footing. I like the intrigue of this, imagining the rare orchids hidden away in the vast reaches of the bogs, never to be discovered.
I like to think of the Word of God as something like a bog walk into the otherwise unfathomable mysteries of who God is. A walkway that doesn’t end like the ones in the parks do, but keeps going, on and on and on, as far as you’re willing to travel, with new and wonderful discoveries around every bend. It’s an invitation to explore, to understand, to fully appreciate who He really is…not just what He might appear to look like when you’re speeding past a church building along the freeway.
We can have many impressions of and ideas about God. Perhaps they’re based on how you were raised, or the way a certain church-goer you once knew acted. They might even be based on what you hear at church or what a good Christian friend of yours says or thinks about Him. But imagining that you understand God based purely on these “drive-by” experiences of life is like me imagining that a bog is completely boring because the only thing that grows there is weird looking pine trees, based purely on the view from my car window. For all you know, your personal experiences may have given you a faulty view of what God is like. At best, it’s only a partial view, just the tiniest incomplete glimpse into a God “who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number” (Job 5:9), who causes the apostle Paul to exclaim: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33)
The only way to find out how beautiful He really is? To get out of the car or off your seat on the sidelines, so to speak, and find out for yourself. Don’t go slogging through in the hip waders of a self-made path, either, which can leave you lost and sinking fast into the mire of false ideas. No, take the board walk He built just with you in mind, the one that is solidly built for sure footing, that skillfully curves along to bring you right to the rarest treasures of His wisdom and knowledge.
Read His Word. Don’t think of it as something you have to do or should do; think of it as a treasure hunt into mysterious and wonderful places, because that’s what it really is. There is no other way to truly “know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)