Today I greeted the morning by taking pictures of the sun coming up over jagged bluffs covered with gorgeously tall ponderosa pines. My lens couldn’t capture the true beauty of the sun cresting those hills nor the way the rays scattered through all the trees and their needles, but it did not matter. Capturing the moment wasn’t as necessary as being in it!
Don and I are relishing a mini-vacation in a very nostalgic place called Chadron State Park. We try to come here once a year and take a much-needed personal retreat. We stay in a rustic cabin that dons cedar walls and the bare necessities of life. We take long walks, pray together, read, study, and ponder where we’ve been and where we’re going.
While here we re-visit old haunts in the college town where we met 35 years ago, fell in love, married, had our first two children, and where Don worked as a campus pastor and then pastored a church for several years. These memories are extremely precious to us, yet it seems each year God draws us back to Who met us in this place and forever altered our lives.
It was here at a retreat, where Don said yes to God regarding the call on his life, and where I met Jesus and committed to follow Him wholeheartedly. Jesus used our pastor and wonderful people in a small little church, to disciple us and propel us into His Kingdom. In that season, many college students from various denominations were finding God and the fullness of His Spirit. We were an unkempt group. Young, long-haired guys and young girls lacking modesty in dress invaded this small church, to find both the amazing Presence of God, and the love, acceptance and forgiveness of some incredible people!
These are the things we ponder while here. These are our spiritual roots! Somehow, looking back to these foundations causes our hearts to re-calibrate and we leave with a new resolve to follow Jesus more deeply and to be people who walk in love, acceptance and forgiveness toward those God has and will place under our care.
While lacking the skill to capture the beauty of the sunrise this morning, I stopped and silently watched as the sun broke over the top of the cliffs and light spread everywhere. Suddenly I realized this was a picture of what happens in our hearts every time we come here. We take time to ponder our own “In the beginning, GOD . . .” and suddenly His light breaks into our hearts and spreads into our mindsets, causing us to leave this place renewed!