Six summers ago, while attending a continuing education class in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, one of my new friends Scott offered to lead a “family friendly” hike. I jumped at the chance to hike through Rocky Mountain National Park. I laced up my shoes and prepared to get ready for this hike. We drove to the trailhead and began our journey. As we started out, I thought everything would be great. But then the realization that the elevation was way different than where I came from quickly became apparent. Half way through that hike, I seriously thought I was going to die. Thankfully others with me encouraged me, but most importantly, provided me fuel through trail mix and other items. Those last parts of that hike seemed to drag on forever. But eventually we did make it back to the trailhead.
Since that summer, Scott has been trying to get me to go on one of their big hikes. I cannot muster up the courage to get up a mountain whose elevation is in the teens (13000) or higher. Then last summer, my friend MaryKay and I were walking around Lilly Lake. Together we made a pact to climb a mountain this coming summer. It’s something that everyday I have in the forefront of my mind. I want to get to the top of that mountain this summe. I know that once I reach the summit of that mountain, the evidence of Gods goodness and glory will be even more evident. Yet sometimes fear gets the best of me and I wonder if I’ll ever get to the top of that mountain.
Now most of us haven’t literally gone hiking in the wilderness, but the truth is we have all experienced temptation and wilderness experiences in our own lives. Sometimes those experiences are short but often times they last for a long time. I can immediately think of those times in my life when I’ve found myself standing knee deep in the mud in the midst of the wilderness. I’ve experienced the wilderness as the daughter of a women who lives daily with a mental illness. I experience it in the loneliness of being single. To be honest, when I look back over life, I can’t think of a time when I haven’t found myself, at one time or another, in the wilderness.
But what I’m coming to realize is, that we are all standing in the wilderness. I think of those I know who are struggling to become parents. I also think of the LGTBQ and trans individuals, black and brown individuals, and refugee individuals; all beloved children of God and so many others. I think of my friends who daily struggle with a mental illness or with depression or anxiety.
The wilderness is a place where we are reminded that God is always with us even when it doesn’t feel like God is there. In the wilderness, Jesus was rescued by an angel. “Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.”–Matthew 4:11
What if we are those angels waiting in the wilderness to help those who are wandering in the wilderness? Perhaps together we’ll see through the thickness of the wilderness to the beauty of the cross and resurrection on Easter morning. Because it is in the wilderness that Gods love is ever apparent; when we realize we are not alone but rather God is sitting with us on the top of the mountain.
Trusting and clinging to that promise, journeying through these 40 days and nights, may we take in every view along the way and reflect on what Christ has done for us. Then at the end of our 40 days, I hope we all find each other at the top of the mountain proclaiming Gods love for all the world because the devils got nothing on us or GOD!