Revelation of Revelation.
To help me prepare to hike the Camino de Santiago in late September, (where I was certain God would answer my hearts question of “what comes next”) my newly married 28 year old daughter decided it would be a good exercise to hike the Grand Canyon with her first. Coordinating time away with Amber is getting more difficult to do now that she lives 400 miles away. Hiking the Grand Canyon seemed like a perfect opportunity to spend time with God, time with Amber, and to test my hiking skills in preparation for the Camino. I had no idea I was about to have several very intimate encounters with Christ!
As I packed my gear bag, I pondered this current season of rest I’ve entered into after having served in ministry (at full capacity) for the past several years. I wondered if God was ever going to speak to me on the subject of rest, or if He was just going to let me wander through it till I got to the end of it?
After a quick prayer, I grabbed my iPad, my gear bag and off I headed to Arizona where my daughter was waiting for me in her new truck packed with our camping gear. I had to chuckle a few times as I made my way to the airport. Memories of me throwing her, the dog and a tent in the car and heading down to the beach for a camping weekend flooded my mind. Nothing feels better than my adult child enjoying her childhood memories enough to want to continue them with me now.
“Your so good to me” I whispered out loud to God as my husband pulled the car up to the American Airlines terminal curb.
“I’ve only just begun to move your heart my dear. You’ve been moving so fast these past few years, you got a little ahead of me. Now that your slowing down a bit, I’m about to reveal myself to you in a very personal way child. See me….” a voice spoke to my heart.
It was almost audible and made me pause a moment to look around to see if someone was standing there with me besides my husband. Shrugging my shoulder, I lifted my backpack over the other, kissed my hubby goodbye for the week, and headed inside the terminal.
“If that was you God, I sure hope your going ahead of me on this little adventure then because I may be in over my head. What am I thinking? I’m trying to get ready to hike the Camino de Santiago by hiking the Grand Canyon? You can’t let me get ahead of you on this one God! I’m trying to find more of you, not run ahead of you.”
“Oh, I’m waaaaay ahead of you child. I have a great adventure planned for you and your daughter this week and I plan to show off a bit if you let me.”
I giggled to myself. “Let you? Like I have a choice?”
“Oh, yes. You always have the choice to see me as I am. You just tend to complicate me a bit. In doing so, you miss out on so many simple pleasures I have prepared just for you every single day.”
“Hmmm? Ok, well since I’m in this season of rest then, show me the side of you I’m missing then and show me what to do with the revelations.”
It was 6:40 Wednesday evening and I’m sitting near the window on the flight in to Phoenix. That’s when God decided to flexed his mighty muscles for me in a way I’d never seen or felt before. Just as we are about to descend, God whispers into my headphones, “Take a peek out the window. I’m going to start your weekend with a bang!”
And there it was. BANG! The most amazing light show I’d ever seen. From the air it looked like the natures channel having a special on air art. Oh from the clouds the boom reverberation and color was incredible. Every color imaginable was laid out for me, with dancing streaks of white lights racing across the purple colored canvas, framed in the white plastic border of an American Airlines window. Spectacular!
I looked around to see if anyone else was as excited as I, but they were all too busy with their papers, snotty noses, or head phones to be bothered. Then I heard Him say, “No, this show was just for you sweet one.”
Stepping off the plane into the airport I had little time to prepare for the heat that should be awaiting me outside. All the news reports said 115 degree temperatures would be there to greet me. The doors open from the air-conditioned airport leading to the outside. I steadied myself. But humidity was all that blew in through the electric doors.
“For your arrival, I’ve cooled the entire city, washed down the streets and watered all the plants”
“Oh, well then, you have thought of everything kind sir and I thank you. ” I giggled once again to myself. This was going to be fun. I could feel God in a very personal way. Different. Almost perusing me, flexing and showing off as if to say to me
“see me as I want to be seen, not just as you’ve seen for I am so much more and I delight in your appreciation of me.”
Yeah, certifiable I know even as I try to articulate it. But, I’ll do the best I can as we go.
Amber pulled up to the curb, “Hi ya, mom, crazy weather. But look, God washed my car for me!”
I just had to laugh out loud.
The next morning we finished packing up with final supplies and hit the road to the Grand Canyon. Stopping at a Gas station to fill up, my daughter almost flipped her lid over the biggest smallest beetle guarding our particular gas pump. The detailed color was crazy amazing.
“I’ll be in the simple as well as the big things this weekend. Look for my treasures everywhere. I’ll be hiding special treasures just for you to discover.” The familiar voice announced.
We arrived to the Grand Canyon by 1:00 pm Thursday. The camp site was perfectly situated far enough from the bathroom to keep the noise down but close enough for a late night stroll if needed. The clouds overhead were heavy and dark. Monsoon warnings came across the radio. We hurried to set up our tents before the down pour.
“Don’t rush, I got you covered” said a calming voice. Suddenly sunshine was directly overhead while circling all around we hear a downpour! Simply marvelous! I’m giddy with joy now. I feel completely cared for and filled with excitement and anticipation of every moment He is offering me here.
Sunset arrives and so do some baby birds. The sweetest sounding songs filled our dinner table. Literally the birds came all around us just to sing us an evening lullaby. Sweet sounds. So tender, so romantic, so caring. We sleep like babies.
Awaking to the sunrise. A magnificent amber color of course. I make my way down the path to the ladies room. I hear a voice saying, “I’ll be in the details today. Look for me.”
Just then I look down and see tinny purple and blue flowers pushing up though the ground. I want to slow down and take a closer look but my bladder full of morning coffee urges me on. “I’ll take a closer look on the way back I promise. I won’t take your gifts for granted”
Exiting the ladies room, I make my way back up the path looking for the blue flowers in the area I heard the voice. Scanning the ground for the purple and blue hues, my eyes catch a sight that simply takes my breath away. A purple heart shaped plastic bracelet just feet away from the flowers. I reach down to pick it up and notice it also matches my shirt! “Ahhhhh, he has thought of everything!”
I return to the camp sight and try to articulate my adventure to my daughter. She laughs and says, ” Mom, you do know how crazy you sound right, you don’t actually HEAR God do you?”
All I can do is smile and let her believe what she needs to. These little gifts may be intended to be between just God and I this weekend. But God knows there has always been a longing in my heart to share him with others as he reveals more of himself to me. I was made to share anything that fills me with joy, with those I love. That’s when I thought I’d trying to explain it to her, and try to capture it in writing for her and others to read later. If it doesn’t make sense, then its simply not for anyone’s enjoyment than mine, and today that’s more than enough!
We fill our belly and our back packs and head off on our first hiking adventure through the Grand Canyon.
“What would you most like to see today my love” God asks of me.
“Hmmm, since I know you’ll be in the small details today, show me something free and alive in the wild. Something I wouldn’t normally get to see up close, but not too close that it will eat me!”
We reach the southern rim of Shoshone Point. The view is breathtaking. Grand is not even the word for it! Vast, majestic, breathtaking maybe, but I keep my eyes focused close on details as well as far in inexplicable comprehension of the greatness of the views. Little bugs, little flowers, little moments with my daughter. All of it grand and small at the same time. What a sweet combination!
On our hike back to camp my daughter asks what happened to the mighty beast God “told” me he was going to romance me with today?
“I’m brave, not stupid. I didn’t ask for something dangerous. He simply asked what I wanted, but he didn’t say he was giving it to me. And, I didn’t ask for a beast. I asked to see up close a large non flesh eating animal in the free. Some times I find it’s romantic enough just to know God knows my desires.” I said.
”Mom, mom… mom! ”
Turning we both see there in the wild, feeding on the grass hill no more than a 100 yards from where we were, this incredible, free, gentle but very large free and alive animal. Neither my daughter nore I knew what it was. Deer? Too big. Antelope? Who knows but it allowed me to take a few photos before it saunters off back into the wilderness from which it came.
My daughter looked at me with no words coming from her mouth. I smiled that all knowing woman in love smile, raised an eyebrow and said “Well, he never disappoints, and His timing is always perfect, that’s for sure! ”
We sat in silence for a few moments and just let it settle in. Then we headed back for camp.
Later that evening, my daughter was splitting wood for the fire. I was enjoying the setting sun and typing away on my iPad trying to capture the crazy epic moments of the day before they disappeared into the fog of my middle age mind. The air was clean and crisp while thunder clouds hovered off in the distance. Amber looked at me than looked over at the pine tree and I watched her walked towards a little speck hanging from a satin string sparkling in the setting sunlight.
“I have a little present for ya ma.” She said and laid the gift on my armchair. “It’s the tiniest little caterpillar I’ve ever seen. Didn’t you say God told you to look for him in the small things? So here is another little gem for you today”, she said squealing with joy as I snapped a picture with my iPad.
Oh the gifts keep coming. Only this time through the honest childlike laughter and tender moments alone with my adult daughter. I know she knows He is this close. She can feel Him too but it’s different for her. As it should be for each of us. But she was letting Him lead her to connect with me there in those moments.
10 minutes later my daughter points out a hole in a tree in the shape of a heart not 50 feet from our campsite. I walk over to investigate and snap a picture. I just had to smile at how God loves the things I love and loves me through them too.
Taking a fitting photo, the tree with the hole in the shape of a heart and on the other side is my daughter in the distance cooking our evening meal.
”Oh God, you are really amazing! So many gifts packed into one sweet day. I’m overcome with awe at the intimate way you care for me.”
Saturday morning, nothing tastes as good as camp coffee. Blue jays busy at work chirping out a morning greeting.
“What could you possibly have for me today God? I am so filled.”
“What time will you spend in my word that I may then speak clearly to you my child?
Flipping open my half drained iPad. It immediately lands on Ephesians 2 19.
”Ohhhhh, the memory verse I’ve been working on all week. Ok I’ll read it here in this surreal garden of Eden.”
The midst of the morning sunrise, a blanket of His morning beauty covers me like a cozy comforter and I snuggle into it in between sips of camp coffee and read His word with a new heart and fresh eyes.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV
Filling my eyes with beauty and heart with special gifts from him are only half the joy. He knows how much I love him and how true joy is understanding him and then sharing that understanding with others. There is more work for me to do. He was assuring me through words of affirmation that I belong. I am not alone. I’m no longer an outcast or unnecessary. That this season of rest is a gift to me, not a punishment. God was filling my heart with more of him with this morning reminder to me. I was made to love and be loved. I belong.
This season of rest is a reminder that love and relationships require energy. The kind He is about to renew in me. So, for now, for a while, He is asking me to rest and simply enjoy being loved by him. For the first time in a long time, I feel worthy of receiving love. He has found me worthy. I cry. A flood of emotions come over me as I enjoy the way God is speaking my love language of affirmation this morning.
I lay back in my chair and allow my bible to fall to my side as I watch the smoke from the morning fire pit encircle the dew drops of the overhanging pine trees. It dances and plays with the wind as it climbs to the tops of the morning trees. Then the smoke causes me to squint signaling its time to wake my child, strap on my back pack and head out for another days adventure.
“Oh I have much to shower you with today my love. Let’s go and keep your eyes up today.”
”Ok. Eyes up. Got it!”
My new son-in-law drove to join our camp today. It’s Saturday and time for one more hike out to Shoshone point. With our back packs securely fastened about our waist and shoulders, the three of us head out but then decide to take the truck to the starting point because as I “keep my eyes up”, I notice the sky is looking particularly dark. We have been warned of monsoons so I stuff an emergency blanket into my pack just in case.
An hour into the hike with my eyes up most of the way, I notice we seem to be following a very dark cloud all the way to the end of the point. We have hiked out as far into the south rim as we can go. Looking across the canyon, God decides this is where he will show off a little for my pleasure. I look about the cannon and there are sweet puffy clouds everywhere except dead in front of us. We climb out to get what feels like the best seats in the house.
From the South rim, we look across to the North rim where the dark cloud begin a dance with each other sending booms of sound echoing across the canyon belly. Lighting thunder and cloud creations like no other I’ve ever seen. We sit, looking up- there on that cliff, spellbound by the beauty of it all. Then I hear my kid call to me from another point. I hadn’t even noticed they had left.
“Let’s go!” they shout.
It’s as if time stood still and these moments were mine forever. I snap a few pictures just to be sure I wasn’t making it all up in my head and then off I went back down the trail towards the kids. Though the terrain was not that difficult, I had my eyes focused on the road ahead of me as I balanced the 20 lbs on my back. 45 minutes into the hike I feel a warmth move over me and a voice says, “Look up Cynthia, look up because I have another gift for you. Look up.”
As I did, there in the thickets was the most beautiful white deer. I guess you call it a buck because it had horns. I had to blink a few times to be sure I was seeing correctly. The kids were only 10 feet in front of me and heard me gasp. My daughter turns around to see why the clanking of the buckles on my backpack had stopped. I was frozen in awe.
“What it is mom?”
“OMG? Ryan look! Wow good eye mom!”
The buck looked at me as if expecting I’d want a photo of it. I snapped a few as it stared at me from less than 30 yards away. Another mighty display of His generosity. His nature dressed in white.
“See me, know me in a personal way. I will speak to your eyes, ears, heart and head so that all of you will be filled with my presence.” And I was. We all were.
Sunday morning. Our last day in camp and Ryan’s first experience camping with Amber. I had woken early to light the morning fire. There was a chill in the air left over from a gentle rain that had passed through over night. I set the coffee pot to perking atop the Coleman stove, and I read a few pages from my book as I lay back in my hammock. Oh yeah, I bought a hammock and it was a glorious purchase. Laying back, watching the morning sun transform the morning dew to steam through the trees, I strike up a conversation with God as though he were hanging in a hammock right next to mine.
”I sure love those kids in that tent right there God. It’s clear they are nuts about each other too. They they are constantly laughing and play games with each other like school kids. Last night they must have stayed up for hours playing that board game “trouble” and it was simply delightful to hear them laughing out loud and so joy filled. Thank you for calling them to you as well. It’s a wonderful assurance that they rely on you for all things even if they hear you differently than I do. Thank you for meeting me here and showing me a very personal side of who you are…”
On and on I went, thanking him for my children, my husband, friends, home, garden, job… I must have spent 30 minutes thanking him as I was so filled with gratitude for everything old that felt new and everything new that felt so familiar. It was as if God had turned on the sound and color to my living.
Finally God interrupted and said “You know, I’m very pleased your grateful for all these things and I want you to always be grateful but not because I need you to thank me, because I want you to be filled with joy as you are right now always. That is what unconditional love does… It fills you with love. This is the reason I want you to accept my grace so you will be filled with my love always. So, enough wrestling with me for blessings and enough thanking me for the day. What do you say we just play and laugh like children did last night shall we? I too delight in hearing your laughter.”
Then the sound and smell of fresh percolated coffee, caused me to look over at the red coffee pot steaming and bubbling atop the stove. At the same time, a flash of red hidden high up in the tree over my hammock caught my eye. I get out of the hammock to turn off the fire on the coleman stove under the coffee pot, then head back to the tree to investigate further what the red flash was. There, about 20 feet up is a red feather or peace of plastic laying across a branch. I find a few rocks and begin tossing them at the object trying to knock it from its setting missing narrowly with each toss and giggling wildly with each try because I almost knocked myself out with the first few rocks as they came tumbling back off the branches right towards me. I laugh so loud I wake the kids.
My daughter exits her tent to see her mother tossing rocks up a tree.
“Mother…what are you doing?” she says laughing at me laughing.
“I’m trying to knock my morning present out of the tree” as I continued tossing rocks.
”Oh brother. Another gift from God I suppose?” She asks, fully expecting me to say yes.
“Let me try.” And she slips into Uggs and picks out a perfect tossing rock.
For the next 15 minutes, she and I laugh as we challenge each other with every toss. Who will be the one to knock it loose? Whack. She is the one who finally hits it dead on, and immediately the red plastic begins it twisting and twirling through the air landing right in front of us.
“Oh cool” she says. “its one of those twirly bird arrows from a kids dart game. See this hook right here, put it in a rubber ban and pull this black part back, then let go and it flys through the air.”
After locating a rubber ban, she enjoys her coffee while I enjoy my new kids toy. Only God could be so playful and simple. It was the perfect way to end this very intimate time of rest with him….playing like a child among his grandure and simplicity.
So many times I’ve gotten him so wrong. I make him so complicated and distant. I get “seeking him” or “service to him” so twisted in my head that I forget how to simply play, laugh and hang out with him.
As the Grand Canyon became a reflection in the rear view mirror of our truck, I believe God revealed to my heart that in resting in Him, I have a chance to heal everything yet broken in me or (at age 50) I will soon begin to die from it…and it’s my choice.
I wondered if this playful, personal Jesus would be coming home with me? As soon as I thought the words I heard him say;
“I’ll be in your housework and your hammock. I’ll pursue you to the ends of the earth to show you my love for you. And when your finally convinced that I will never leave you, that you are safe, valued, loved, necessary and important to me, that you belong to my family always and there is nothing you can do to be kicked out of my home or heart- perhaps then you will have no need to ask me ever again not to leave you, and you will start to believe we will be together always. And we will be sweet child. For an eternity. You and I. And yes, there’ll be hammocks and whirlly birds in heaven.”
I knew then, the adventure I seek with Him on the Camino de Santiago during this season of rest is simply a new beginning of yet another new beginning. God is showing me how to find Him and then share Him with others in a new way and I am getting very comfortable just letting Him be Himself with me.
“Ok God, let that journey now begin!”