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Saturday, March 9, 2013

A slot canyon hike...It was God's idea.

     More excited than I thought I could get about a five-day trip to Palm desert, I stayed up late and packed the night before.  Car loaded, ice chest ready to fill, I put groceries and Vita-Mix by the front door and went to bed.
     Up early excited about the day ahead, we made it as far as Lone Pine.
     Something was wrong.
     Paul reached over and squeezed my hand as he turned the choking truck around, but my tears came anyway. We were now heading in the wrong direction.
     This precious time away with Paul had been postponed once before, and now, all I could focus on were the beach cruisers in the back that we would be taking out. They would be unloaded when we got home. I could hear the click of their metal kickstands on the cold garage floor.
     Crying over beach cruisers may seem over-dramatic to you, but I’m confessing that one of my greatest joys in my “desert time”with Paul is our early morning 4 mile ride to Starbucks for coffee.     
     Before we turned the car around I'd been texting some friends that we love dearly.  We were discussing getting together in April to talk about a trip to the Holy Land.  Dan and Kelly have survived unimaginable things.  I’m talking three liver transplants and the death of their precious son Samuel who lived only nineteen days.
     My subsequent text to them was about turning the car around, abandoning bicycles, and the fact that I was crying about it.  Am I really telling Dan that I am crying over having to change cars and NOT being able to take our bikes to the desert? Seriously?  Yes.  That was the answer.  I was. 
     I took a deep a deep breath and laid the phone in my lap feeling ridiculous.  I need to get over it. Paul knew my disappointment and squeezed my hand again.  “I may have a bike rack,"  he said, “Jerry gave me one last year. I’m not sure it’ll fit on your car, but it’ is made for a car without a trailer hitch. I’ll look for it when we get home.”
     Three and an half hours later, my Chrysler filled to overflow and beach cruisers on the bike rack, we entered Lone Pine for the second time that day.
     We were quiet and I took a deep breath settling in for the ride ahead. In my spirit, I told the Lord I was sorry about behavior and my attitude and thanked him for his “always perfect” provision even when I didn’t deserve it. 
     In our quiet conversation, God laid a specific idea on my heart.  “I think you should check out hiking."
     Hiking?  We had never hiked in Palm Springs. Are there even hiking trails there? 
     I did, however, get a rush of excitement knowing it was God's idea and not mine. I did not want to miss out on something He had planned for us.  Googling hikes was easy.  Reading the choices to Paul as He drove became fun.    
      There were two that we thought sounded promising and might be do-able based on our limited experience and lack of proper foot wear, (our hiking boots shoes were at home) so I made some phone calls, asked some questions,  and we made plans.
     The first hike was beautiful and a big surprise. 
    The second one was simply a gift from God.  It was described as an easy six miles over flat rocks full of color.  It said,  “It will make you think your walking on the moon,” and  I was all over that.   
   We parked the car expecting to see maps, a ranger station or a trial head or something, but none of those things existed. Just two men in a parking area and a couple of cars. 
     Paul walked over to the parking area guys and I saw one of them hand Paul a small crumbled up piece of paper and heard them say something about a ladder hike. 
     Paul walked up and took my hand. "Those guys showed me a map they took off some hikers blog. They said we should do the ladder hike that goes down into the slot canyon."  
     "What's a ladder hike?" I asked him.
     He shrugged, "I'm not really sure. He just said to look for the arrow made out of rocks and then make sure you follow it.” 
     We walked on sand in a huge open canyon for about three quarters of a mile before Paul spotted it.  It pointed up to the steep face of a rock. “You up for this?"  Paul asked climbing a bit to checking it out. 
     “There’s no trail,” I said, “Do you thinks that's the right way?”
    “I do.” He answered and I was already climbing up behind him. 
    At the top there was an obvious place to slide down, so we sat and glided ourselves down into the narrow canyon below.
     “Wow,” I stood not really believing what was in front of me, “this is amazing.”
     It got more amazing and we soon realized what the man meant by "ladder hike."  We both pictured some kind of rock formation that resembled a ladder, but now, we found ourselves at the end of a canyon with a long painter’s ladder simply leaned against the canyon wall.  At the top of the ladder was a hole.  
    We climbed up and down three sets of such ladders over the next few hours as our journey through the slot canyon continued. I can’t even begin to describe the light and the timing of the light. Even an hour earlier or later would have changed everything.     
    I’m pretty adventurous by nature, but Paul told me he was surprised by my total lack of fear and inhibition doing this, (kinds crazy but very cool) thing. 
     Here's the truth.  I knew before I slid down into "whatever was below" that God had chosen it for us and that made all the difference.  
     It had never been our idea to hike. We were going to lie by the pool, read, ride beach cruisers, and walk through town holding hands and eating dinner.  
     I knew that what God had for me in this canyon was worth whatever it took to get there. I knew too, as soon as my feet hit the canyon floor, that it would be something I couldn't even imagine.  
     He is a picture I took of Paul.  "Narrow is the way." and "I am the light of the world." He would tell you that God spoke to him in this place.  
 Over and over and over again God gives me more.  I am awed by his glory and humbled by the grace of his love.
     In my future there will be many more pity parties because simply put, I wanna make everything all about me.  If I don’t cry over beach crusiers, I’ll cry about something or someone else than bursts my bubble.  I also know that God’s plans and decisions for my life are better and greater than anything I could come up with or plan on my own and I don't want to miss them.  Even the revelations and reminders about my own selfish, hard, and unforgiving heart are worth the good long look He makes me take because He uses them to shape me and mold me more to his likeness.  
     And then...he whispers his great idea and gives an unexpected and amazingly beautiful gift out of love for me. 
     This is our God.   

PS. The early rides to Starbucks were better than ever.