“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91-4 NIV)
Some may read what is shared on this blog and wonder why it seems self-centered at times. Firstly, that would be a misconception – it is God, Jesus and Holy Spirit-centered. Secondly, I am not apologetic – God ordains my steps and decided I needed one on one time with Him for a while. Thus leading me to share where He has me and where he leads. Quite frankly, I am content where God presently has me taking root: Living beneath the shadow of His wings!
Much to my chagrin, I’ve not had the luxury of much free time to rest and heal in the Father’s arms of love and mercy. In hindsight, perhaps there was guilt I took on believing much of the past year and a half was time wasted which belonged to the Lord. I guess I’ve attempted to redeem and make up for that time since summer, 2016. The Lord spent the past couple of months reeling me back in, and providing valid reason to loose myself from commitments. Thus opening up more time with Him. The Lord seems to want me “right here”…being aware and introspective while He runs baptismal waters over deep weariness, washing clean my heart and drowning this soul in Light. He is in the process of restoring every major and minor thing within that has been tattered and torn. Through this renewal the Lord is causing me to dig an even deeper well…surprising, for I found that old well ran pretty deep! He is pouring purified water into this new well, and it’s being met with much despair by the enemy.
The Lord recently revealed how the enemy constantly circles about me, awaiting any opportunity to pounce again. (1 Peter 5:8) He revealed how the enemy devised to take me completely out through recent trials. Yet, since God pulled me from the fire, he was unable, and has since made several attempts to steal my health. Oh, how easily he forgets where my health and help come from, amen! “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2)
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8)
My Heavenly Father is determined to get me back into optimal shape (mind, body and spirit) so I can accomplish his goals. He is reiterating how to fight the good fight. Realizing, having finished the course, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Why? “…this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” (1 Corinthians 9:23). “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Act 20:24b)
God orchestrated a day, during the first week of 2017, for me to encounter Him as I faced a literal mountain. He provided a truly personal “mountaintop experience.” Being physically out of shape compared to my normal fit self, exhausted on all levels and still healing from an earlier health issue that diminished my inner and outer strength, he sent me to climb up a mountain in The Great Smoky Mountains. Anyone who knows me understands just how deeply God spoke my language through this gift: I’m a hiker, plain and simple! The more challenging the hike, the better, according to this adventurous spirit!
Was I up for this challenge? Honestly, I didn’t know. Regardless, He commanded me to “go tell it on the mountain” in new territory, solo. No companion other than the Lord would accompany me. Thankfully, He led me to a trail that was popular so I wouldn’t be completely alone! (Isn’t God kind!) Not that I had any trepidation – I’d hiked plenty on my own in less popular places, to no negative consequences. Although, to add the the strain, He had me stock a full backpack for the trek – something I had yet to utilize in all my years of day hikes!
However, God apparently decided to test my faith and ability to find strength in Him on that mountain trail…
The night before the hike, while asleep in the hotel, I awoke to a sharp pain in my leg. It felt as though something bit me, hard! I searched to no avail for a culprit, checked my leg and saw nothing to be concerned about, then went back to sleep. I looked again in the morning but saw no bite marks. (Apparently, I was looking at the wrong leg!) To make a long story short – unbeknownst to me, by the time I finally reached the trail, over dressed for the suddenly warm weather, venom had already began to work through my bloodstream. I wasn’t a half mile into the hike (on little ascent) when I began to sweat profusely, while my heart pounded loud and hard against my chest!
I was baffled by why I kept needing to stop to catch my breath! Another quarter mile in, I stopped to take off my heavy jacket and put on a lighter one (thank goodness I packed it). As I did so, a cool, misty rain began to fall – talk about grateful. I was burning up and cared less how wet I got; it honestly didn’t matter because my clothes were sopping with sweat. (I shot a little ‘thank you’ upward as I stood there letting the drizzle run down my face…) I hike often, on trails much more difficult than that first mile, so I really didn’t understand what was going on with my body.
The rain finally tamed the inferno within, enabling me to make up for lost time, although, admittedly moving much slower than normal. Thanks to sweet Jesus I made it to the destination! It was oh-so-worth all I went through to reach this place! I had no idea what to expect at the top of the trail therefore what I happened upon was exciting! Once reaching the Alum Cave, I had every intention to climb further up to the summit of Mt. LeConte, nearly three miles further up the mountain. Alas, my body was really starting to bark. I had rested a bit at the bluff before reaching Alum Cave. Unfortunately, the extra 1/2 mile uphill wasn’t agreeing with me and recognized I couldn’t go further, if I wanted to make the descent.
Even through my own issues, God found a way to use this vessel that day: I was blessed to encourage a woman who was lagging behind her husband, trepidatious about going further and further up the mountainside. I’d come up behind her a few times, to find her struggling, and offered uplifting humor over our state of being. Once she reached a certain point, she stopped completely, just short of our common destination (see photo above). I had nearly reached the top when I noticed, so called out in her direction, promising it was worth climbing the steps. I was glad when she eventually made her way up, joining her man.
I figured the descent would be a piece of cake since the temperature had dropped and I was no longer overheated. Uhm…noooo! About 1/3 of the way down, my left knee started to throb; pain shot up and down my left leg. “No way!” I thought, and stopped to rest against the cliff wall. I found myself laughing at, then praying over, my crazed body. I had poles, so utilized them on rough patches, although that seemed to worsen the pain. After a bit I heard the Lord telling me not to use the poles – I didn’t need a crutch He said. Then reminding me of His promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13) Yes…yes, I can and that was the attitude I took!
I obeyed and prayed harder, rebuking a spirit of pain and the devil. I spoke health and life into my knee over and over again…then, about 3/4 down the mountain, the pain subsided. Relieved, I found a creek to play in before I took the exit bridge; lo and behold, the woman I’d encouraged came down the trail, saw me, and thanked me profusely for urging her to continue on. I was very touched by her gratitude so thanked the Lord for using me to be of help!
Do I even need to state how physically exhausted I was from this insanity? I doubt it. Let me tell you, a hot shower never felt so good as it did late that afternoon! I was grateful that I was going out for dinner (a delicious dinner at that) so I could simply sit and do nothing for a while.
God knows what He is doing. Despite the level of endurance this “mountaintop experience” took, it invigorated my spirit! I felt like myself (a conquering warrior princess for the Lord ;)) for the first time since September 2016. It wasn’t until a couple days after returning home I finally discovered the spider bite: I kept experiencing discomfort on the back of my left ankle (the same leg that gave me problems on the trail). Not being certain if it were a bruise or muscle strain, I finally took a moment to inspect the area. That is when I spied the distinct, red fang marks in the middle of a large, swollen bruise. I’d not felt completely “well” since the day of the hike – after looking up symptoms, everything explained itself. God showed me how that hike saved me from falling truly ill (from the bite) – the excessive sweating detoxed my bloodstream more quickly of the venom than if I had been dormant. Yikes…but wow!
Did God know in advance that spider would bite me? He is omniscient and showed it by orchestrating a huge test of my dependence upon Him. Providing reassurance to His daughter she can still overcome any obstacle – in His strength not her own. What an unexpected way start off the new year, in this amazing, inspiring walk with my Lord.
“Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.” (1 Chronicles 16:11)