Glacier National Park is one of my favorite places on earth.
I’ve never been anywhere where God’s majesty is so clearly on display. And there’s one spot in the park that stands out in my mind – Apgar Lookout.
It’s a strenuous hike to get to Apgar Lookout, but the view at the top is nearly indescribable. The only time I’ve been there, I was hiking with my brother.
After hiking more than three miles through a wooded mountainside and climbing nearly 2,000 feet, my brother and I came around a bend and into an open plateau.
There, for the first time, we saw the grandeur of God’s Montana handiwork stretched out in front of us.
It took me a second to realize what I was looking at. It was as if my brain had to adjust to the scope of the scene to properly comprehend just how big the view was.
When it did, what my eyes saw literally took my breath away. My heartbeat quickened and so did my steps as I hurried further out into the open to take in the whole view.
Lake McDonald, a pristine glacial lake, was stretched out thousands of feet below me, serenely reflecting the clouds in the sky thousands of feet above me.
Forests rose from the lake’s edge to snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks that appeared to stretch on forever. It was almost otherworldly.
Apgar Lookout gets its name from an old ranger station/fire tower that precariously sits just where the land begins to steeply fall away toward the lake below.
I climbed up onto the fire tower and sat on the edge of the railed walkway with my feet dangling over the edge of the world and stared slack-jawed out into the clear Montana sky as I ate a sandwich I’d brought with me.
It reminded me so much of a Dave Matthews Band lyric that I played “Lie In Our Graves” on my iPod before I moved another inch.
“Would you not like to be/sitting on top of the world with your legs hanging free?” Matthews sings.
After lunch, I explored the rest of the plateau, drinking in the view from every conceivable angle. I felt like I was in a dream.
The sun was shining warmly, birds were chirping as if on cue, the wind was rustling through the trees, and the air was legitimately sweet with the smells of spring.
I’ve never experienced a moment like it before or since. It was perfect as I imagine God to be perfect.
Psalm 148 is one of the “Hallelujah” psalms. It’s part of a group of psalms that all begin and end with the word, “Hallelujah.” Psalm 148 imagines that all of creation gathers together to praise God as if with one voice.
The psalmist writes that the sun, moon and stars praise the Lord. The ocean depths and the highest heavens praise the Lord. Lightning, hail, snow and wind praise the Lord. Mountains, hills, fruit trees and cedars praise the Lord. Wild animals, woodland creatures and song birds praise the Lord.
Kings and princes, men and women, young and old all join in the psalmist’s chorus, too, saying, “Praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens” (Psalm 148:13).
I never read Psalm 148 without remembering my afternoon at Apgar Lookout. I imagine the trees, the birds, the wind and everything else from the depths of Lake McDonald to the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains all singing “Hallelujah” together. And I imagine my little voice as part of the chorus too.
On Earth Day, we remember that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). The earth is to be treasured, celebrated and preserved. As the psalmist reminds us, the majesty of the earth both reflects and announces the majesty of its Creator.
We have a responsibility to nurture and care for all that God has created. We should actively seek to maximize our positive impact and minimize our negative impact on the natural world, always remembering that the only appropriate response to God’s creative initiative in our lives and in our world is unending praise.
So, this Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), go outside. Take a few minutes to read Psalm 148. Imagine your place in the chorus. Lift your voice. And sing “Hallelujah.”
Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series for Earth Day 2017 (April 22).
Matt Sapp is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia.