Saturday, July 13, 2013

Take a Hike!

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2:14-15

He didn’t lead me into the wilderness, but instead, Steamboat Springs. I woke up at a Holiday Inn and found I had the whole day to myself to do whatever I wanted. Glorious. And in such a pretty town.
At breakfast, a nearby lady was talking to a nearby couple about things she recommended to do in Steamboat Springs. “You have to ride the gondola up to the top of the mountain.”
Eavesdropping is not listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit in the Bible but if it was, I would have it. Later that morning, I headed for the gondola. It occurred to me as I got on and it revved up to climb the mountain, that I am not great with heights.

Thoughts like “Great time to remember that, Iobst” crossed my mind as I watched the ground beneath me get farther and farther away. The single cable that stood between the gondola and certain death for me seemed to make a strange noise. The only thing worse was when it got quiet. I mean, really quiet. Of course, my mind ridiculously ran through all the possible outcomes of a fall: broken leg, organs damaged with me in a hospital and ultimately the scene of me giving Jesus a big ole fist bump.

But courage came in and sat with me in the rocking gondola and I was overwhelmed with the Spirit of God. His presence reminded me to look around and SEE HIS beauty. I did. Joy.

At the top of the mountain, there was a restaurant with incredible views so I sat and had most of a hot dog and some watermelon and enjoyed. I read God’s Joyful Surprise by Sue Monk Kidd and became more inspired. In the middle of enjoying my time, I felt a nudge on my heart.

“Take a hike.”

 It wasn’t said like a gangster in a 50’s movie telling a kid to scram. It was a gentle suggestion of the Spirit.
“I’m not a hiker.” My response was firm. In fact, when I had asked for directions to the gondola from a Holiday Inn employee she had said there were many hiking trails up there if I was interested. I giggled, “I’m not a hiker.” She was a bit older than me and carried some girth with her and she giggled, too. An unspoken agreement between wise women who see no point in engaging in such activities.

But see, God knows my heart and He keeps showing me that I can do so much more than I think.

“Take a hike, Robbie.”

Ignoring the Spirit’ voice, I read more of Kidd’s book and came to this quote by Charles DuBois: “The important is to be willing at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we can become.”

Somewhere in the meal I decided to do it. Of course, as I made my decision I tacked on all sorts of addendums and requirements:

I’ll go for 15 - 20 minutes and then I will turn around. I will not jog. I will turn back at any time I feel I need to. I will wear my IPOD to distract me from the pain. I will stay at the bottom of the trails until I see someone going so I can follow them so I know that if I fall and have a heart attack, I can scream. I will hold my key in one hand so if a serial killer happens to be on the hiking trail and attacks me, I can plunge the key into his neck and limp away.

At this point, I would love to tell you that I am exaggerating. I’m not. (And how could I have a heart attack and scream?)  But the neurosis and fear that have plagued my personality still have remnants that jump up and shout any time I do something out of the ordinary.

I told God okay. We’ll do it Your way, Lord.

I didn’t time myself or hold onto my key. I did carry my purse, which I noticed no other folks seemed to have around that restaurant. Backpacks and fanny packs but no purse. Still I went. I didn’t see anyone near the trail I chose and I just took that trail cause it looked pretty. I wore no IPOD. This was a hike about me and God. Just walking. Just doing it.

Here’s what happened.

I found freedom on this wonderful path.

Beauty. I didn’t know how long I had walked at any time. I didn’t know where it would end or when it would end. Somewhere along the way, a strange man and I came to the same spot. I found myself smiling and talking to him like we were long lost friends, not some character from an evil TV show bent on hurting me. And best of all, God and I talked on our hike. It was one of the sweetest times I’ve ever had. I heard lovely things that are only between Him and me. I felt loved and I felt strengthened. My fear, my doubt in myself was completely suspended simply because I chose to put my feet in front of myself, one step at a time. 

I breathed hard and I almost slipped once. I kept going. I saw a little butterfly that seemed to follow me or lead me. I’m sure there were a million of them up there, but to me, I had one little butterfly leading the way.

Maybe the Spirit used that butterfly to encourage me. Why not?
I finished the hike covered in sweat. (My people don’t perspire. We sweat. I asked a lady near the restaurant to take my picture)

I was also covered in possibilities.

You and I just don’t know all we are capable of, until we say YES GOD. We just don’t. We assume because of our age, size, job, family situation, or everyday rut, that there are certain aspirations we cannot possibly complete. Every one of us has a fear that stands in the way of going for it. I know a hike is not a big deal to everyone, but to me it is a huge accomplishment. And I didn’t honestly know I could do this. I didn’t.

Not until I said, “Yes God, I will take a hike.”


Michele Cushatt said...

Beautiful, Robbie. Just beautiful.

Robbie Iobst said...

Thank you friend!! :)