Last week’s trip into the Eagle Cap Wilderness of NE Oregon reminded me how life is a blessing to be celebrated. Despite the challenge of rain and “agedness,” Bob Carter and I enjoyed the kind of trip we never wanted to leave. We passed through storms into rainbows and clearing skies. Psalm 23 always reminds me that the God of life is a living and a loving God, whose presence never leaves us.
The Hurricane Creek trailhead, located between Enterprise and Joseph, OR, is one the most accessible to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In less than a mile, you find yourself in this wide canyon with towering peaks on both sides of you. A three mile hike takes you to Slick Rock Creek falls, an excellent place for a picnic and for exploring the upper creek. However, it is another eight miles to reach the Lakes Basin, and few people commit to this distance.
I think we often wonder , when God looks at our hearts, whether He can really love us. Rev. David Wilkerson of World Challenge recently addressed that question. He realizes that many fail to appropriate God’s great love for us. He writes, “from cover to cover, the Bible speaks of how loving and tender our Father’s heart is toward us. Scripture says of the Lord again and again:
In his book, “Here and Now,” Henri Nouwen writes, “Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend upon the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world we live in is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world, you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’
As I read this magnificent Psalm, I am reminded again of how much more I need to fill myself with God and not with all the externals that I let fill me and satisfy me. St Augustine is right when he says that whatever we love outside of God, the less we love God. Yet, as this Psalm says, God never gives up on us!
Psalm 139.1 and the Chambers’ quotation may seem, on the surface, to be a strange juxtaposition. I will let you draw your own conclusions. One thought I have is the infinite depth of God’s call to us. He examines our hearts; He knows everything about us. How can we settle for anything less than His call to holiness and love?
I was looking back over some of my pictures from my first trip to New Zealand in early 2009. I was struck again by the beauty of the country and the majesty of God. Rabbi Heschel and Henri Nouwen speak from a Jewish and a Catholic background, respectively. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 32, they remind of us the immediate importance of God. God is not someone we put off into the future. He is the NOW!
For a variety of reasons, I have been prompted to think of the eternity that awaits us with God. Isaiah dramatically tells us how tightly God holds us; Hebrews talks about the impermanence of this world; and a friend’s poem reminds us of beauty beyond anything we can imagine.