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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

National Parks and Soaring Eagles

A few years ago, Don and I drove from Colorado to California through Utah and Arizona. The terrain either side of the road is extraordinary. The dry scrubland is punctuated with exclamation points of dramatic stone shapes – we skirted the famous Zion, Bryce and Canyonlands national parks so were enjoying their leftover magnificence.

We stopped frequently, at every lay-by, to take pictures and read the tourist trail descriptions of what we were seeing. At one particular spot, we read that Butch Cassidy’s hideout with his Hole in the Wall gang was nearby. At that same place, another information board told of the Mormons following this ‘trail’ as the discrimination against them intensified in the east. 

We wondered how their wagons could have possibly traversed the landscape we were seeing. It was pockmarked with depressions, littered with stones and hillocks and scrub bushes and cacti. Every foot forward must have been deliberate and required some preparation.

There must have been scouts and trail blazers looking ahead and trying to predict the easiest route for the clumsy wagons and weakened pioneers to take. Sometimes that may have been the shortest route but no doubt there were times when the easiest route involved going in a round-about way. Not every mountain and river would have been passable, even with care.

Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God, Isaiah wrote thousands of years ago. 

I sense that we have come through a wilderness these last months – me trailblazing as much as possible and then moving forward. I have often felt weak and daunted by the mountains before me. But with God’s help, we have arrived at an oasis now.

I say an oasis because we are not out of the desert yet. God has been speaking to me about the eagle as well as the wilderness. Isaiah 40 ends on the wonderful verses that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.

I hope in the Lord and therefore my strength will be renewed. As I soar like an eagle, the obstructions of mountains and cacti and ditches and scrub bushes blend: none looks insurmountable; all look fairly innocuous even. From a height, I can discern a way forward better than I can when obstructions loom above me. 

Jesus invites us to sit with him and enjoy times of refreshment. I anticipate a thirst-quenching draught of his Holy Spirit. I am excited to linger with him and be renewed. Even in the on-going busyness of life, such refreshment and renewal can come. I am so grateful, as I sink into his presence.

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