Hike a short distance up Union Creek along the upper Rogue River near Prospect Oregon and you'll witness the striking beauty of the Rogue Gorge.
Initially formed by the regurgitation of Mount Mazama in the Cascade Mountain range and her red hot flow of smoldering lava spewing out of a gigantic caldera, this volcanic eruption also created one of the world’s natural wonders - Crater Lake National Park.
The magnificently sculpted lava tubes – some miniscule, others massive – are a puzzling labyrinth of cavernous intricacy. Some pierce to the surface, others hide underground. Relying on the magnitude of winter’s melting snow, the turgid waters course violently, spinning rocks and pressing small pebbles into the notched walls of the Gorge.
Restless white foam splashes playfully against ferns and mossy rocks, then mysteriously, the frigid waters are swallowed into an underground maze of friction as the river is diverted through bends and chutes, only to waken anew, under the canopy of sugar pines and giant evergreens blanketing the fertile forest floor.
The river makes her mark on the rock.
In much the same way, certain life experiences mark us along our passageways.
The Greek word “Sphragizo” means to set a seal upon, mark with a seal. The dictionary defines “marked” as: set aside, designated, signifying ownership, keep.
Sometimes it is tragedy or sorrow that marks us for a season – perhaps even a lifetime. Sometimes we work to achieve a goal, complete a task, are applauded for an accomplishment, or acquire an inner satisfaction of joy by overcoming an obstacle. These too can mark our path.
In similar ways, love, encouragement, and grace mark our paths in distinctive ways.
Although we cannot make claim to it’s origin, the imprint of a “divine seal” upon our lives proclaims our identity in concert with the immutability and authority of a God who oversees all things, who shapes, builds up, and conforms us to higher purposes – things that lie beyond our present understanding.
The constant assurance of such a loving, intimate investment is both astounding and incomprehensible, except that mysteries do seem to unlock and revelation liltingly cascades upon the elegant ribbons of grace. If we seek discovery for why we are marked thusly – why we are sealed until the day of redemption - we will surely find ourselves (created in/imprinted with His image), to also be called His children. To this understanding and assent, our heavenly Father sets His seal. Forever after, we are hedged-in to the foundation of a love that stands sure; and somewhat serendipitously, we know we are His.
Having given us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge - marked by inheritance and redeemed as God’s own possession, we give glory to the One who created us... loves us with an everlasting love... and has brought us out of the darkness into the light.
Like the mighty rushing waters along the Rogue Gorge, gazing upon it’s inlets and coves, we are sheltered under the wings of His outstretched arms – instruments of love bathed in pools of peace. Here, we receive both the rare and the common… we love the unlovely… we embrace change… we are nurtured and strengthened in faith... we are reinforced, restored, refreshed… . In this place is where we are as much alive to freedom as we are anchored in hope.