Sparkling Surprises High in the Sky

Posted on Jul 17, 2012 in Faith | 69 comments

On July 13, 2012 our family was supposed to climb the 12,804’ Middle Teton near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  But our friends were delayed at a rodeo competition in Cody the night before, so our expedition was changed to July 14th.  God knew the difference a day would make.

After waking on the 14th, I read my daily portion of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:  “Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you…. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain.  The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak…. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.  Though the path is difficult… there are sparkling surprises just around the bend.”  I couldn’t believe the reference to climbing a mountain!  Actually I could, because we’re dealing with a God who continually amazes me… who, I think more and more often the longer I’m in relationship with Him, is a God of perfect providence, divine details and “sparkling surprises.”

In hindsight, the climb was tough; based on duration alone, the Middle Teton felt like a fourteener.  With a combined total of four adults and seven children, we experienced difficulty in various ways.  I had personally been concerned about my left knee.  I hadn’t climbed or, more importantly, descended a mountain of this magnitude since my knee surgery two years ago.  A simple walk around my neighborhood sometimes hurts my knee; what would a 10-hour day of hiking do, I wondered?  That morning I prayed for all 11 of us by name.

After reaching our lunch spot, where a steep snow field lay in front of us, my 10-year-old did not want to go on.  It’s one thing to continue an “arduous journey” when you feel weak; it’s another to make your child do so.  My mother’s heart wanted to say, “Okay, Honey, I know it’s really hard.  You’ve done a great job.  We can stop here and go back down.”  For several reasons that would have been the much easier path.  But I remembered Jesus’ words to me that morning… and they weren’t about an easy path.  I prayed out loud, “Jesus, please be Joey’s and my strength.  We are weak; please hold our hands as we forge a pathway up this mountain.”  I told Joey we just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  He grabbed my outstretched hand while I consciously clung to Jesus’.

For the next several hours Joey and I were alone–with Jesus and our solitary ice ax.  Most of the time there was no path up and through rock and snow fields.  The need for Jesus‘ strength became secondary to our need for His direction.  Memories of the film “127 Hours” filled my brain as I tested the stability of boulders we needed to traverse.  I was thankful for the weather which had become strangely warmer and the MIRACLE that my knee wasn’t hurting… at all.

Finally, after reaching the top of numerous “hills,” we arrived at a truly dazzling surprise.  Beauty incapable of being seen anywhere but atop this mountain.  A GIGANTIC “crater” with statuesque mountains circling all around.  An aquamarine, iceberg-laced lake at the bottom.  A breathtaking vision of God’s “big-ness,” splendor and majesty all wrapped up in one.

I never would have guessed there was an even greater “sparkling surprise” up ahead.

Joey and I climbed yet another snow field, going higher into the sky.  I wanted to see what was there.  Upon arriving at a safe resting spot, we sat on a rock together, sharing some water and gorp.  “Mom,” he said–his bright blue eyes looking into mine–“I had fun climbing this mountain with you today.”  And he smiled at me.

A sentence I’ll never forget.  A moment forever etched on my heart.  After all we had endured….  I may not have been on the summit, but I was on top of the world!

It didn’t dawn on me then–but it has while writing–that at the beginning of this year, when I asked all of my children to choose a special memory verse, Joey chose Philippians 4:13–”I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  Yet another “sparkling surprise”… watching God touch my child’s heart by proving His words.  Wow.   

I’m pretty sure Joey and I weren’t the only ones smiling.  “Keep walking with me along the path I have chosen for you.  Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to my heart.  I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you…. Stay on the path I have selected for you.  It is truly the path of Life (Jesus Calling, July 14, 2012).

How grateful we can be.  For arduous, abundant, eternal Life.  For Jesus.

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