I had a good hike today. Pippin and I drove up to the back entrance of Daley Ranch here in Escondido and hiked the Engelmann Oak Loop, about 3.5 miles total. It was not flat, but not too strenuous either, and we got some good exercise in the two hours we were out there. I was hoping to be able to say that I never saw another human on the whole hike, but just towards the end, within the last half hour, I saw one bicyclist and two hikers. But I was alone for most of the hike.
Usually I bring my earphones with me and listen to music while I hike. This time, I forgot them, so I mostly had silence, birds, and my own thoughts to entertain me. Lately, my own thoughts haven’t been particularly entertaining, though, and about halfway through the hike I found myself praying.
“And my mouth will declare your praise”
Prayer and I are not really good friends. Like many people, I suppose, I struggle to take the time, to find the words, to remember who all needs my prayers. I have a devotion every morning myself and every evening with my family, but it’s not every day or every week even that I pour out my heart to God. But today, I prayed. I talked and God listened. And being so alone, with nothing else to do, and lots of things on my mind, the words came and came, until I was all out. And what was left for me was this: “Be still….be still.” And so as I walked, I was still. My mind was finally still. (That is a lot for me, someone who is almost never still!)
And then I walked around a corner and up a hill and saw this tree that reminded me so much of a cross. And it gave me hope…with the knowledge that God hears all our prayers, that when we ask for Him to help us with something, to take our sins away, to help us align our will with His, that He will not say no to that. He promises us that: “By his wounds you have been healed.” “But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” (Psalm 4) He tells us to come to Him with our troubles, our sins, not to hide them away but to confess and pour them out to Him. And when we have no words left, we can pray what the psalmists prayed. The Psalms are filled with people in distress, coming to God with their troubles. And God always delivers them, according to His will.
“Make haste, O God, to deliver me. Make haste to help me, O Lord.”
We are so blessed to be able to approach our God in prayer and ask Him directly for His mercy, and He renews our spirit. I am blessed to have been given the gift of faith and forgiveness in my baptism, to be given a wonderful family and to have a vocation that lets me serve the Lord everyday, through my family and the church.
“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.”
Here are some more pictures from the hike: