Paul Bunyon and Babe, his big blue ox, stand welcoming tourists to the Trees of Mystery. Just over 49 feet tall, Paul is said to have dug the Grand Canyon simply by dragging his ax behind him as he and Babe walked across the land. Now, with a wave and a wink and a lot of talking, he entices visitors to enter the groomed trail through the redwoods where they can not only view the wonders of these mighty trees, but can also be entertained by the legends of Paul’s exploits as a giant lumberjack. There’s only one catch—there is an admission fee—no money; no mysteries revealed. Oh, you can still wander through the End of the Trail Museum, learning about the lifestyle of early Native Americans; or visit the very-nice gift shop that offers temptations galore for great souvenirs; but only wandering along the mysterious forest path makes the day complete.
Much of life is like that. There is a cost for just about everything—food, lodging, entertainment—and very little is free. There is one great big exception though, because the full price has already been paid in advance. Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, came to earth and offered Himself on the cross, paying the penalty that is required for man’s redemption from sin. But He didn’t stop there; he also sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Teacher, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)
The Ben Franklin Five and Dime at the Arcata Plaza was doing a booming business—it was 1958 and hula hoops were a nationwide craze. Kids, myself included, were all over the plaza, whirling and twirling those brand new hoops around our waists and from every appendage.
Fifty-some years later, the Plaza that I remember so well was still there; the surrounding businesses now a more eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, and the Ben Franklin building housing a furniture store. But that was OK because I wasn’t shopping for hula hoops this time—I was browsing bookstores, hoping to find unique-to-the-area publications featuring the redwoods. I did make a few good discoveries, but there wasn’t much that couldn’t be picked up at any local tourist trap. Perhaps these ancient trees are just too big to describe adequately via the written word; only in their presence can their majesty be experienced.
A few days ago, reading through the gospels, I was struck anew by the fact that there’s really not a lot written about Jesus’ life on earth either—just four short books, with many of the events of His life duplicated in two or more places. And yet, in those few pages, lies the greatest biography ever recorded. How can so few words hold so much truth? How can the brief accounts of His teachings convey everything we need to know in order to have a relationship with God? How can each passage be so simple that a little child can understand, yet so complex that every time you read it you may see something new? I think it’s because the words were inspired by the best communicator ever—the Holy Spirit; and He knew exactly what we needed.
The Apostle John said it well as he concluded his account with, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)
The majesty of the redwoods forests is nothing compared to the majesty of Jesus; and only though relationship as we sit in His presence can we even begin to comprehend the fullness of Christ.