Saturday, November 12, 2016

Endurance Test

We have just returned from a three-week Sabbatical across the American Southwest. Through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico we were continually stunned by the majesty and the artwork of the Master Painter!  Having time in our little camper to leisurely visit national and state parks, camping beneath towering rock formations and leafy boughs, we got the rest we needed - and more importantly, the time with God we needed.

On one particular day in Mesa Verde National Park, we endured an extreme test of endurance that we did not plan on, nor did we see it coming!  We took off on what we thought would be a lovely trail through the vast canyon of the ancient cliff-dwellers, looking for the petroglyph pictures they had left behind, inscribed on stone walls. We neglected to see the small sign at the entrance to the trail, which read "EXTREMELY STRENUOUS AND INTENSE HIKE. DO NOT ENTER IF YOU HAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS."

As we hiked the extremely difficult, intense terrain of the Petroglyphs Trail, my John continually assisted me along the way. My legs were too short to navigate and maneuver many of the high-elevated steps and he was always there with a helping hand, lending his strength to pull me up. I was so grateful all day for his strong, loving care over me. He literally had to PULL me with all his strength across a wet, slipper boulder that I could never have gotten over alone.

It was a powerful illustration to me of how Father put us together. I help his mind to navigate and he helps my body to navigate! We do need each other. I am so grateful for this hike and all the parables God showed me. After almost three hours of this relentless test of endurance, we both felt we could go no longer. We became very concerned that it would get dark before we could get out of that remote canyon and we wouldn't be able to find our way out! We had not known there was a register to sign before coming on the hike - so no one knew we were in there.

We stopped to rest, perching on a large, jutted rock and took our last remaining sips of water from our water bottles. Lungs reached for air. Muscles screamed. Then I heard the Spirit say, "Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD!  It was a clear call to prayer. I asked God for supernatural strength and energy to finish the course. We told Him we had no strength of our own to keep going and prayed that He would strengthen weak muscles and ligaments, giving us the encouragement to keep going.

John had reached a very real place of fear that we wouldn't get out. But when we finished praying, we got up and began walking again and strength returned to us! We didn't know how far we were from the end of the trail - but after about 15 minutes we clearly saw the museum where the trail began and our spirits rallied, pressing us forward.

Soon a cold 43-degree rain began to pelt us and the trail became very slippery. We felt the strong hand of angels preventing near-slips and falls. God was with us, every step; and in the end, we finished a trail that we later learned was labeled "difficult and intense." The 68-ear-old with two heart attacks had made it - and I could not have made it without him!

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