Tag Archive | cliff

Hiking with God

Halfdome, Yosemite Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose Special to The Fresno Bee Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

Halfdome, Yosemite
Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose
Special to The Fresno Bee
Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

So, I’m going on a hike in 3 weeks. Not just any hike. This hike is 16 miles total: to climb Half Dome in Yosemite and back to the trail head. When my brother offered me this opportunity, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes”. I am thrilled to see God’s handiwork from that lofty view point! At the same time, it is daunting to think I will carry my pack of supplies and climb to over 8000 feet! I’m 52. I live in Houston. It is sauna – I mean summer. There are no mountains nearby to “practice” hiking for the altitude. Did I mention I’m 52? I haven’t done any serious hiking since I was 16. My heart and soul keep thinking of the communion with God during the hike: no TV, cell phone, ipad, etc to interrupt. Just hiking with God as my tour guide. It’s pretty awesome to be able to do this with one of my brothers – they are ALL older brothers. If he can do it, so can I. Selfie stick photo at the summit? Maybe not – I’d have to carry it the whole way. Did I mention I’m not a serious hiker? So all these thoughts are running through my brain, but how do I train? My brother is retired. He can hike 13 miles a day. I go to work for 6 hours of daylight. Did I mention it is summer in Houston? What to do, how to train, how not to die from the heat? I purchased the necessary equipment and borrowed a few things. First, break in the hiking boots. Check. Next, I put bottles of water in the backpack. Check. Find a good friend who will walk with me at 6 A.M. while I look like a homeless woman carrying her life’s possessions – and walking 2 dogs. Check. Add more weight to the classes at the gym. Check. Next, take backpack and hip-pack (btw: loaded) spend 1 hour on the treadmill or stair-climber before class at the gym. Check. Did I mention I’m 52? OK, I’ve done that and I can still move! Ask same good friend to walk inside (sans dogs) at the local hospital’s inner mall. It’s air-conditioned. Check. “Dear God, please don’t let me have an injury from training! I SO want to make this trip.” This has been my process. I know I can talk with God anywhere, anytime. Life can be busy and distracting. Reconnecting with Him while in nature is restorative, at least for me. It reminds me that He takes care of the birds and He takes care of me and my family. It gives me time to peel back the layers of everyday stress. So, my countdown has begun. I leave in 18 days. I have several theme songs: Superchick- “Go One More”, Tobymac – “Give Me That Funky Jesus Music”, and the song lyrics “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor, put one foot in front of the other, and then you’ll be walking out the door” (from a Christmas kids’ special). For now, I am still 52 and going to hike Half Dome. Stay tuned for the aftermath!

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DON’T JUMP!

Have you ever felt as if you were about to go off the deep end? You might even think things are going fine, and suddenly a slight puff of negativity threatens to throw you off balance enough that you find  yourself — almost willingly — reeling precariously at the edge of a deep abyss of the soul?  Perhaps you have reached your current stage of life as a result of much labor and even well-fought battles, and, at the end of it all, nothing seems worth it.  You find yourself embroiled in one too many of the same, oft-repeated battles, and you simply don’t have the motivation or stamina to continue.  The brutal realities of your dilemma are too much to bear, and the calling you thought you felt doesn’t sound that appealing or compelling after all.

HEAR THIS WORD:  No matter how logical it seems, no matter how rightly you think you have discerned the situation, DO NOT JUMP!  God is escorting you through the narrow mountain passes and along the cliff-ledges to maturity.  You have the opportunity to choose to look up and believe He is Who He claims to be, or to focus on your unsteady footing and on the daunting size of your attacker.  This is not about denial — your opponent is very real.  The problem is very real.  However, neither is it about the reality of your opponent or how powerful he is.  Instead, it is all about who God is, what He has called you to do, and how you will choose to respond:  in belief or unbelief.

Unbelief?  Isn’t that something that characterizes heathens?  Yes, but all too often, I find myself responding from a root of unbelief.  If we examine ourselves honestly, many Christians don’t really believe half of the things they quote about God.

When God asked Moses to appoint a representative from each tribe to spy out the Promised Land, Moses chose valiant leaders who accepted the call.  Ten of those leaders came back with a very realistic, detailed report of the enemies that faced the Israelites in the new land.  Their reports were, in fact, true — those enemies were there, and they were daunting.  However, two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, believed what God had said about the land and about the enemies.  Notice that God had made the promises and issued the call BEFORE he allowed the called ones to SEE their opponents.  That was for a reason.  The issue is, only two of the twelve retained their sense of call and belief in God’s promises after getting a closer view of the enemies!

That is so often how I respond when under stress or pressure.  I forget the reason I got involved in the first place, I wonder why on earth I accepted the challenge, and I patently don’t trust God to finish what He started.  I tend to focus on the intimidating realities of  the challenges and difficulties I am facing, without directing my attention to God and asking Him for His perspective on my crisis!    Instead of bailing out or jumping off the cliff and aborting the mission, I need to rally my human self and look up to the One whose call I originally accepted!

In Hebrews 12:1-3, Paul urges us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”  During the great race of life, far too often, instead of looking at God and His promises and trusting Him to equip and enable me for the challenges of life, I look down at the path and worry about the rocks, the steep places, the uneven places, the mud and mire, the quicksand, or the altitude and narrowness of the path.  Perhaps, instead, I am distracted by the people around me who may be criticizing the way I am running or who think I am ill-fit for the race.  Instead, no matter how perilous the path or how loud the opinions of others, God wants me to look to Him, the faithful author and finisher of my faith, who is able to make me stand (Romans 14:4), and who will complete the work He began in me (Phil. 1:6).

Why do I not focus on Jesus?  I am responding from a deep root of unbelief.  The bottom line is that I do not trust Him to do what He said.  What is the solution?  The solution is to repent of unbelief as soon as I recognize it, and say, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”  (Mark 9:24, TNIV).  Lord, expose the places of unbelief in my heart and deliver me from them!  I choose, Father, to focus on YOU!