This weekend my husband and I set out for a hike in the mountains of Colorado. It’s been several years since we’ve been hiking at an altitude of 9000 feet. We struggled in our decision to go due to the number of storms that we’ve been having recently. We finally decided after checking the weather app that we would be OK to go out for an hour or so. We started up the trail and came to the map that showed the various trails that we could hike on. As we were standing there a man (Hiking Bob) came up from one of the trails and we asked him which trail would be a good short hike? He was familiar with the trails and shared with us which trail he thought was best. We took off in that direction enjoying the beautiful blue skies, the wildflowers the lush green pines and aspens blowing in the gentle breeze.
Around thirty minutes into our hike, I noticed the sky was starting to build up with clouds, some of them looking ominous and dark. I began to get a little nervous as I knew we’re getting far away from our car. The man had assured us that this hike was only about three miles, we figured we had gone about one mile at that point, so we continued on. The clouds were quickly growing and becoming darker. I asked my husband if we should turn back. He replied we were over halfway so we should keep going. It wasn’t long after that that the thunder started to violently rumble over us, and the rain began pouring down. It even hailed on us!! I felt as if the storm was going to swallow us up. Since we were deep in the forests, we had nowhere to go to find safety. They always tell you when the lightning is striking to not stand under a tree but literally, we couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Normally, I would begin to panic and get upset but instead, I chose to start praying for God’s protection over us and crying out to Jesus to keep us safe during this dark storm. I began to grow very weary and my legs were tired. I was out of breath. I wasn’t used to hiking at high altitudes. I started digging in my backpack to pull out my raincoat when I realized I didn’t have it. My husband had a rain poncho in his backpack and being the wonderful man that he is he gave me it to wear so that I could stay dry and warm. He kept encouraging me that we were going to be just fine as we continued to climb up those mountains making our way back to safety
We realized as we got back to our car that there had been torrential downpours all around us on that hike. I thought to myself, during those storms, how I was crying out asking Jesus to send His Angels to protect us, keep us safe and not let us fall prey to the storm out in the middle of the mountains. It was at that moment that I realized my prayers were answered.
Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and you shall glorify me ~ Psalm 50:15
Yesterday, I sat and watched with horror the mass shootings that happened in El Paso, Texas, and my home town, Dayton, Ohio. My heart was wrenched and broken as I heard of the horrific and tragic choices these two young men had made to randomly end the lives of innocent people. It was pure evil. I will never understand what drives someone to pour out such destruction on the innocent lives of others.
My thoughts immediately went to the loved ones who would be getting the devastating news that someone near and dear to them was no longer here on this earth. Whenever I hear tragic news old wounds in my heart rear their ugly head. I think back to how incredibly painful it was when I received the devastating news that my son had been critically injured in a car crash resulting in his death, and later that my husband had ended his life. My first thoughts were of how I want to run to those who were hurting, broken and lost, to hug them, and speak some words of comfort. I can assure you right there at that moment as their lives come tragically and violently tumbling down around them there are no words that will comfort and convince them their lives will ever be okay again.
It is at this juncture of tragedy, pain, suffering, and in the darkness, we are forced to decide. Will we follow our fear or our faith?
When the storms come and the things get tough, we must lean on faith rather than sight. Sometimes fear will set in and then we follow our fear instead of following our faith. Christ did not teach that a life of faith would be easy, but the reward for endurance would be great.
If I could say anything to those who have tragically lost a loved one, it would be, Jesus loves you! He desires more than anything else to receive you unto himself. He loves you and there is LIFE in His word. He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction ~ Psalm 107:20. He is the only answer when our lives are torn.
Give all your anger, despair, hurt and bitterness to him. I know how big this mountain is! I know how ugly this storm is! With the help of the Lord, I was able to conquer that mountain. It was on top of that mountain I looked back on the devastation from my storms and knew God’s love surrounded me. He was my anchor. I am once again in the land of the living. He was where I found my peace.
My heart grieves with you Dayton and ElPaso.