Lesson from the Grand Canyon

Recently, our family had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon. It’s an awe-inspiring sight that cameras can’t capture and words can’t describe. After our visit, I saw a teaching opportunity for my boys. I asked them, “What caused the Grand Canyon?”

It’s a question I wish everyone would consider. The apostle Peter warned that a time would come when people would espouse uniformitarianism, or, to use his words, that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Grand Canyon National Park is full of the evidence of this belief as sign after sign explains that the canyon is the product of the local floods and erosion caused by the Colorado River over millions of years.

With a little bit of help (they said, “God!”), my boys had, in my opinion, a much more reasonable explanation for how the canyon came to be. It’s the same one that Peter reminded Christians of in the very next verse: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). In order to explain that massive canyon, you need something far more massive than the Colorado River. Along with countless other geographic features around the world, it was created when the whole world was flooded during the time of Noah.

After reading Genesis 6 with my boys, I encouraged them to link together four things: 1) a great canyon; 2) a great flood; 3) a great sadness; 4) a great evil. Here’s how those four things come together.

As we’ve already mentioned, that great canyon was caused by a great flood. That great flood though was caused by a great sadness: “the LORD… was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6). My boys and I paused and thought of how sin affects God. Sin isn’t just breaking laws or doing things that hurt other people; it’s deeply hurting God.

People sin every day, but the world doesn’t flood every day, right? In fact, earlier on the road trip that included our stop at the Grand Canyon, my family saw a rainbow, a sign of God’s promise that He would no longer flood the entire world with water (Genesis 9:12-17). No, the great sadness that caused that great flood was itself caused by a great evil: everyone across the entire world did and thought of “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). So, again, a great canyon was caused by a great flood which in turn was brought about by a great sadness in response to a great evil.

My boys were troubled by the fact that sin affected so much, and, maybe after taking so much joy from watching the overfed squirrels at the national park, were especially troubled by the inclusion of animals in the flood’s destruction (Genesis 6:7). One asked, “Couldn’t God have just brought everyone into one place and made a flood there?” I told them that the flood is a reminder of the fact that sin never only affects us; it affects God, others, and sometimes even the world itself.

I asked my boys to think about the Grand Canyon again though. Was it beautiful? They agreed that it was. This was my chance to teach them something that I wish everyone knew. Sin brings incredible destruction. It caused the world to be destroyed once with water, and one day it will cause it to be destroyed again with fire (2 Peter 3:10). But the Grand Canyon stands as a testimony to the fact that God can still make something beautiful from the broken pieces left behind by sin. What an awesome God we serve!  
-Patrick Swayne   
patrick@tftw.org

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