One travel highlight this summer was my visit to the Great Salt Lake of Utah. While traveling by train I met a gentleman who encouraged me to try and visit it. The setting is a bit surreal and eerie, but it's also very beautiful in its own way. I followed through on the suggestion, with help of my friend Pastor Dan Vellinga. Dan serves in our sister church in Marshalltown, Iowa. He offered to drive us up there. Here are the pictures I took on our visit to Antelope Island in the Salt Lake.
Even though the island/park that we visited is called Antelope Island, it is most noted for the population of bison. We saw a few of them near us. I felt a little sorry for them, being such huge furry creatures in such an extremely hot and dry environment.
Someone once told me that the only animal life the Salt Lake can sustain is a small kind of shrimp-like creature, and also the insects that feed off of their shells. Indeed there were alot of those little bugs along the shore of the lake, but there were also seagulls flying around in decent numbers too.
The lake gives a desert-type of feeling, and it's easy to misjudge distances from afar. Dan and I decided to walk out all the way to the shore after seeing a beach from a distance. We made our way out there, but it was a longer walk that it had originally looked to be. It was the equivalent of several city blocks across a completely barren sandscape.
The environment was so hot and salty that it gave the feeling of dehydration. It may have been a bit psychosomatic, but as we left and drove into Syracuse we decided we needed a beverage to cool off with. We found a tropical snow stand that served up huge servings of snow-cones, which we devoured.
A couple weeks after that trip, Hillary and I had a chance to drive by and visit Lake Inman -- in between Hutchinson and McPherson, Kansas. It's much smaller and less famous than the Salt Lake of Utah, but it's also very distinctive for being the largest natural lake in the state of Kansas. Kansas has many large reservoirs, but not many natural lakes. We took a couple pictures on our visit to Lake Inman...
Lake Inman is about the size of a large farm pond. The presence of lake weeds growing throughout suggests that it's not very deep. It doesn't seem like much of a recreational lake, but it has its own beauty as well.
Reflecting on these lake visits made me think of several things. I think of all the ministry that Jesus did on or near lakes, ranging from the eerie Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee. The Dead Sea is also a salt lake, and the Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel.
And I think of the teaching value of the components of salt and water. Jesus told His followers that we are the salt of the earth. Authentic Christian discipleship has a flavorful quality to it that adds beauty and grace to life. And Jesus also described Himself as one who gives living water. In a world that is genuinely thirsty for God-given meaning and fulfillment, Jesus takes us to what we need because ultimately He is what we need. One of the speakers at the preaching conference I'm attending this week put it well: "He died thirsty that we might have living water."