Catch and Release

My Father in Heaven, he knows me. Upon creating me, he instilled a need for serenity that seems to be found best while lost (alone) in the woods. Perhaps, it is part of my genetic composure, with my Native American roots running deep into the forests of Appalachia. Or better still, a greater measure of who God created me to be; healing my soul through His beautiful creation called Earth. Despite allowing myself to grieve every loss in life, my heavenly Father still catches me trying to be more brave than I ought be. He understands what it takes to actually free my spirit for His rescue. Therefore, He catches me amidst my struggle to swim upstream, then releases me into still waters so I can breathe again.

The past two weeks I have struggled to breathe due to the decision I had to make about my dog, while also attempting to rest and regain both physical and emotional strength. My problem: Being off work, I had no desire to leave the house for long due to fatigue and grief. Not that I wasn’t active; I was outdoors exercising and running errands, but apparently the heaviness was holding me back. God knew I needed to break free so sent me out into the countryside of Southeastern Ohio on a trek. Don’t let the word “countryside” create a false image in your mind…it may be country but it is not flat!

It was time to get lost in the woods!

LIKE A RUSHING WIND

I prayed for the Lord to lead the way and show me where the day’s journey would take place, and he complied. I prayed for him to accompany me as I knew His strength and vigor would be required to carry me. He first sent me to a trail I’d been on before, one where I knew that a sign reading “trail end” was a facade. It actually continued on, marked but not well traveled. So, He sent me, alone as usual…or so I thought…until I recognized Him in the rushing wind which accompanied me. We hiked across two separate trails; when I was tired and weak, He urged me forth, catapulting my spirit into the wild, releasing me from the heaviness that had me bound.

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2)

God went with me through every step and every breath. His spirit surrounded me, coming in a rushing, mighty wind. You may wonder, how I know it was God: It went before me. In moments when I stopped to be still in Him, it stopped. Nothing before or behind me was moving…I was enveloped in peace. I recognized His loving voice speaking to my heart, explaining that this adventure was his way of reinvigorating and re-instilling His strength and courage within me because I would need both in the next leg of service to Him. The Lord was reenforcing that I am still the fearless warrior he’s spent the last seven years molding from The Potter’s Clay.

The Holy Spirit unleashed his power as it urged me on through some unexpected surprises and physical fatigue, so we could reach the “mountaintop” ahead. He went before me, moving out everyone who’d been up there, just as I approached the final climb. God emptied that place out so we could meet and be alone. Not another soul ventured up for the duration of the 40 minutes we camped out atop the solid rock on which I stood – my Jesus, my Savior, my friend. 

The wind upon that place rushed about me, gusting yet not threatening. His voice in my head kept repeating ‘rest in me’. So I did. I took off my hat and released my hair. Then, I removed my shoes and socks, giving my throbbing feet a reprieve. It had, after all, already been three hours of trudging through the woods, over rocks and roots, up and down hills, in and out of the blazing sun. Ironically, or not, the 87 degree temperature was completely tolerable due to the wind. I stretched out across a bench atop Buzzard Roost Rock and communed with my Savior. Being physically spent the warmth from the hot sun relaxed me into submission.

I sat in awe of the beauty before me, while breathing in God’s presence and the luscious clean air. It was a powerful moment like many I’ve been humbled to have, being overcome by Him so he could move mountains blocking the way.

 

As the Turkey Buzzards swarmed and glided overhead, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought: what if they take me for dead? What if they swoop down and start pecking at my still body? I moved a bit now and then to ward them off because one kept flying pretty close! Honestly, being alone up there, with the foul of the air in all their gracefulness, was awesome. They were free and God used the buzzards flight as a reminder: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

I finally felt as though the time had come to make my way back down the trail. Nearly an hour later, despite a gnawing pain in my left leg, I made it. Twice during the week prior, I received Isaiah 40:31, and although the desire to sit down and rest was overwhelming, instead I repeated the verse over myself: “But they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary and they shall walk, and not faint.”

I praised his name over and over, relieved upon finally reaching the end of the trail…

While recognizing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I managed after a 5+ hour hike through the forest, to make it home safe and sound, feeling rejuvenated and ready to face whatever is put before me, as well as less sad…for God’s sake. My roots felt deeper and strong, like those of wildflowers having weathered many storms!

PRAYER:

OH, heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus in humble gratitude of the intimacy of our relationship. Never have I felt so “known” and cared for as I do when your hand is upon my head. I pray You continue to send me down un-tread paths in order to gain courage in all Jesus is, and all he is not. He is strength when we are weak. He is breath when we cannot find our own. He is the release of our spirits on a blood stained cross, for our flesh is bound to this earth; but through His life, through the sacrifice, our spirits are replaced and indwelled by the Holy Spirit…our guide and comfort here on planet earth. I sincerely do not know how I ever coped without knowing You for so many years…however, what I know for certain: I never want to do this thing called life without You holding my hand, ever again! My most heartfelt prayer is for those who burden Your heart because they are currently absent from the Kingdom of God. Despite the weariness experienced over the past several months, I may not have actively gone out; instead, You had me laser focused on one or two lost sheep. I thank you for always “sending” me, no matter my state, so I may be used in fulfilling the Great Commission and help lead Your lost sheep back to the flock. 

Today, I had a mental vision of why you came to earth that maybe someone needs to hear, and I am meant to share for even ONE person: God came to this earth, born a human and grown into a man named Jesus of Nazareth, because you, God, understood that your creation kept failing and needed a tangible example of how to live a life pleasing to you. You, God, gave us yourself as a witness to this world on how to love, minister and heal through YOUR power so until the day comes that the Lord returns and this place falls apart, we the people could follow in Your footsteps – straight to heaven.

For those who only half pretend to walk the walk of purity and love, are fools – because the only part of people that is “good”, is that within us that is of You (because people are not inherently good). I pray this sinks deeply into the minds of those who don’t know you, or don’t know you as intimately as You desire! 

You are a never ending light at the end of every tunnel, one I try my best to truck toward no matter the cost because YOU, Lord Jesus, paid it all, and would have, even if for only one soul…how could I not want to do Your will. Thank you Father God for loving mankind despite ourselves! You LORD GOD are so worthy…thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! 

“You may be the mouthpiece for God’s truth to the unsaved, but you cannot nourish the flock of God which is among you unless you are rightly related to the Shepherd, unless you are willing to let God use you as broken bread and poured-out wine to feed His sheep. ” –Oswald Chambers, in Workmen of God from the Quotable Oswald Chambers.

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