It felt like walking through a different world at times. I was in the middle of South Dakota, along the banks of the Missouri River, yet I heard what sounded like the waves of the Pacific crashing against the shore. The grass was khaki in color with green dispersed through ought, slowly taking over. The wind whipped through my hair, through my clothes and at the wrong times, through my bones.
And so I walked. I walked and I prayed. I prayed that the ticks I was finding on my clothes didn’t make their way to my flesh for a mid morning snack. I prayed for refreshment, for refocusing. I prayed for the fruit of the Spirit to manifest in me as I ministered to those I have been called to shepherd. I prayed that God would grant me the tools I needed to continue to serve him.
Monday morning, taking the day off, I drove down to Pease Creek Recreation Area. A place just south of Geddes, SD. I took a horse trail, with evidence of being recently used. I noticed my foot prints, my big feet, making impressions next to the horse hooves, making indentations into the sand deeper at times that the hoof print that was there. I walked along the narrow trail breathing in the fresh air. Breathing in the life and world around me.
One thing I’ve learned about these prayer walks (save for the fact that they are roughly 12 activity points with Weight Watchers) is that when I pray for God to meet me there, He is there. Or, the fact that I am meeting him there. It is some awesome coming together that makes me walk away each time in peace and wonderment. I come on these prayer walks with my Creator to be refreshed, renewed, and refocused.
But he is more than just my creator. He is my strength while I’ve been weak. It has been hard to limp along these last 6 months. Frak, it’s been more than that. I’ve been limping along since my ear infection. I’ve been weak since July of last year. And He’s been my strength. He has been the one, through His Holy Spirit, strengthening me, giving me the spiritual muscles that I so need during these times.
I followed this unknown trail, thinking of so many times, in prayerful walking obedience, I followed trails and paths that God had laid out for me in the past. He’s been faithful to me. He is faithful to me now. And He’ll continue to be faithful to me in the future. As I followed this path, I came to an inlet. The best I can explain it is a lagoon, formed by the Missouri River, hiding in plain sight. The waves were lapping the shoreline as they had been further north, but with the wind, the waters were still rough.
I stood there, looking at the beauty of it all around me. The bluffs all around. This so could have been Drakes Bay. The fabled beach head where Sir Francis Drake was to have landed in California. A place I’d been to so many times when I was younger. It could have been any place along the California coast line. It could have been anywhere along the Michigan coastline, where the mitten comes to a head at the Mackinaw Bridge, connecting the UP with the lower peninsula.
I stood there for a while, breathing in the air, thanking God for this gift that He was giving me. The trail continued on past this point, but I knew that as far as I hiked, the return trip would be just as long. Sadly, it was time to go back.
As I walked back (occasionally checking for ticks) I felt that refreshment, that renewal I needed to start off my work for Holy Week later in the day. As I hiked back, I saw a trail sign. Feeling proud of myself for taking such a hike, I was sure I had hiked at least 3/4 of the trail. I saw the sign, so much ahead of me, I had barley scratched the surface of what the trail had to offer.
That is how it is with my prayer walks, I’ve been realizing. Not only am I offered exercise during a time where I feel most weak, but I am given refreshment when I’m the thirstiest. I am given renewal when I’m the most tired. And when I come to my Father in heaven in deep prayer, I am only scratching the surface of what he is capable of.
And so, next week I’ll return to pray and hike and get 12 points. Maybe not to the same place, but I return to my God, my savior, my provider, my sustainer, my Father and friend. I’ll return in prayer, just scratching the surface, wanting and willing to go even deeper than the last time.