Two weeks ago, we joined the FBC Iron Men to hike Guadalupe Peak. Again. It was my twentieth time on top.
In honor of that, I dug out this blog post from our first time to the summit, Cyndi and I, in October 2003. When reading this, I was surprised how little has changed. Even sixteen years older and twenty hikes later, the questions of life and living are still the same.
LIVING IN MYSTERY
It was a hard, uncomfortable sleep, and I tossed and turned all night long. I was dreaming on-and-off that God was speaking to me, feeding me long scripture passages that I was supposed to absorb and memorize and then filter out His specific direction for my life. The dream should have been encouraging since I am always hoping for direct communication from God, but instead it was unsettling. In my dream I kept going through the same verses, over and over, because I couldn’t remember them. I was so nervous that I would miss an important word or two I couldn’t relax and listen to the whole message. I can remember waking slightly, rolling over in the bed, and reminding myself to renew my efforts and concentration because this was very important, and I shouldn’t blow it.
That same day I had been suffering from slight heartburn or something, but in my dreams, it turned into a low-grade heart attack. I can remember telling myself to listen to the words from God very closely because with a heart attack coming on, I might not get another chance. No wonder I was tossing and turning.
Now that I’m awake, I can remember the stressful parts of the dream, but none of the actual message from God. (That’s probably why God doesn’t speak to me through dreams, or least why He hasn’t so far, because I never remember any details.) I don’t think last night’s dream was a direct message of God’s will to me, but I do think it was an insight into my own spirit – about how I get all tied up in knots trying to find the correct answers to life, to the future, to marriage, to love, to running faster, etc. I want the answer. I want the secret key that unlocks all the mysteries. I want the magic phrase that opens it all up to me.
Well, the older I get, the more I realize God will not hand me a roadmap or outline or bullet-point list of what He wants me to do. My dream was an insight into my own insecurities, but not a picture of how God will speak to me.
In his book, “Seizing Your Divine Moment,” Erwin McManus wrote this about following God’s will: “God called Abraham on a journey that took him to the realm of uncertainty.” If we want to follow God, then we need to know that “He calls us out of comfort into uncertainty.”
I am learning to be more comfortable with the mystery and uncertainty of following God. I no longer expect God to say, “Turn left, turn right, go straight, speed up,” but rather, “OK Berry, stay on your toes and be ready for changes.”
THE BIG VIEW
Last weekend Cyndi and I decided to do something different from our regular pattern. We drove to Guadalupe National Park and hiked to the top of Guadalupe Peak. We had a great time together; it was a fun date. The trail, correctly advertised as “stressful,” was well marked and well maintained and uphill all the way. It was hard work, but it was fun.
Guadalupe Peak is famous for the view from on top. On the clearest of days, you can see all the way to Mexico, and a huge portion of West Texas and Southern New Mexico. However, clearest of days are rare. There is usually a layer of natural haze, and in recent years, smog from Mexico. On the day Cyndi and I were there, we also had limited view due to low-hanging clouds and fog.
At the top of the mountain, Park Rangers placed a metal box containing a hardbound journal. Climbers are encouraged to write their names and date of climb, as well as an inspirational quote, poem, verse, or description of their trip. I wrote our names in the book and part of Psalm 139.
When I asked Cyndi what she wrote, her eyes twinkled, and she quoted from Lord of the Rings: “I wonder what sort of story we’ve stumbled into?” She was thinking about the big picture of our lives.
Erwin McManus wrote, “If you want to seize your divine moments, you must accept that you are on a divine mission.” If there is one thing certain in our lives, if there is one thing clear, it is that we are in a story bigger than us, grander than we can see, filled with uncertainty and mystery, yet also filled with the hope of God. I doubt we will ever understand exactly what kind of story we’ve stumbled into, and I imagine most of our mountaintop experiences will offer only limited views into the future, but the adventure of following God is exciting.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32