The late autumn sun setting behind the Black Hills cast dark, dry shadows on thirsty, gumbo soil. The Cheyenne River still carried a little water, but seven years of severe drought made me marvel at the sad beauty of one of my favorite vantage points for thinking.
Through my teens and the years since, I loved to look over the cliff. Scanning more than three miles of river valley from southwest to northeast always filled me with admiration for God’s magnificent creative power. It made me feel small—in a good way.
Whitetail and mule deer lived down there in company with rabbits, red squirrels, raccoons, coyotes and wildcats. Pheasants, turkeys and doves called it home. Migrating flocks of ducks and geese took up temporary lodging on the river. Cattle, sheep and horses grazed in the pastures—except when no rain meant no grass. It was a sad valley in dry times and a lush, happy one when the rains came.
We all need a cliff to look over—a hill or a mountain to climb where we can contemplate. Even Jesus sought an overlook. He gave the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7) overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Another time, after a public confrontation with some biblically unbalanced religious-political leaders and after healing a demon-possessed young girl, “J esus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there” (Matthew 15:29 Matthew 15:29And Jesus departed from there, and came near to the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
American King James Version×).
After fighting those different forms of the forces of evil, the Savior of mankind as a human being needed a little time to reflect on His mission and ministry. From the vantage point of that mountain (perhaps the same one of the famous sermon) He could privately pray to the Father and gain both a literal and a spiritual overview of the events and challenges in His life. Humanly, He collected His thoughts and feelings to prepare for what would happen next.
And next were the people who needed His healing of their diseases, deafness, blindness, injuries—and even more, the spiritual healing of truth and love. A great multitude of 4,000 men plus women and children came up the hill to his viewpoint, and He miraculously fed them a meal of fish and bread (verses 32-38).
In a very real way we want Vertical Thought to be similar to the cliff or the mountain Jesus enjoyed. It can help you maintain an overview of life. It can help you learn the truth that Jesus taught and begin to experience the profound love He has for you personally and for all.
Take a look “over the cliff”—or, in this case, inside the cover of this issue to consider the implications of God’s existence, of serving others and of increasing your brain power by reading the Bible, plus a host of other vital truths. And please check out our newly designed website VerticalThought.org . Moving forward, the website plans call for not only what you receive in the printed magazine but much, much more.