My Testimony, Part 2

Exploring Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, California
Exploring Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, California

Last week, I told the early part of my testimony: How I found salvation in Christ and how we started traveling.  You can read about that here.  This week, I’d like to continue the story of my faith and our travels.

I first remember being touched by the wilderness when I was nine years old.  We were driving I-90 across Washington – a long stretch of the highway passes through the Cascades near Cle Elum and what I’d later learn was the Teanaway Region.  I drove my brothers crazy on that section of highway, constantly putting down the window of our 1989 Chevy station wagon so I could, “smell the mountain air.”  Actually, that smell and the view out the window stirred something deep inside of me; a thrill that tingled through me for no apparent reason.  A few days later, hiking in the northern Cascades, and then a week or so later in Yosemite, that same thrill stayed with me.  I still love the views of the steep-sided Cascade Mountains and the cliffs of Yosemite.

The Hidden Lake Trail, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Two years later, my dad got a few of us up early so we could drive to the rim of the Grand Canyon to watch sunrise.  I’ll never forget that morning, watching the sun slip silently over the horizon and splash the buttes with the gold.  They glowed, with the shadows still deep within the canyon, the colors changing second by second as the sun climbed higher.  I was completely blown away by what I saw that morning; it cemented in my young life an awe of the wilderness.

Sunrise along the Grandview Trail into the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Sunrise along the Grandview Trail into the Grand Canyon, Arizona

I could give other examples of discovering that I loved the mountains and God in the natural world, but this was all happening while God was moving in my family.  We’d always followed after Him; loved worship before it was popular; read the Bible and prayed together every day.  But something deeper was happening in us, and it came to a head shortly before I turned thirteen.

It was simple, really: A friend-of-a-friend of the pastor (or something like that) came to our church for special meetings and told us about the Holy Spirit.  He made the third member of the Trinity sound so safe; so natural that you’d experience Him.  And since my parents seemed cool with it, obviously (I thought) it was a great thing to do to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Teewinot Peak and Grand Teton from the String Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Teewinot Peak and Grand Teton from the String Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

And the Spirit did fall.  It wasn’t like an electric shock; it was more like He just willingly invaded every part of our lives and every person in our house with revival.  We rode the flow of it; at the same time, my older brother and I were learning how to lead worship together, so we spent hours around the piano and hand drums worshiping.  Our vacations that year went topsy-turvy (can you imagine leaving home with 8 hours’ notice and with no clue where you’re going?) but they, too, were filled with the power of God.  I’ve never experienced trips like those since then – where we’d just land at places at just the right moment for whatever special event was happening; meet people who were amazing Christ-filled believers; have so much fun adventuring across the country.  It even mirrored our spiritual journey as we followed the steps of the early pioneers from Kansas to the Pacific Ocean in Washington state.

The fire of that revival lasted about seven years before it began to ebb a bit.  It’s come and gone more strongly and more subtly in the years since then, but it’s still here – and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

Pacific ocean at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington
Pacific ocean at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Meanwhile, I was growing and changing, myself.  At the ripe old age of 14, I planned my first trip across the US.  To quote my dad, “We were in Oregon and most of the way through the trip when I realized we hadn’t been on a major US Interstate since Minnesota.  Anne majors in the off the beaten path and out of the way destinations.”  It’s true.  Seeking out almost unknown vistas is a passion.  It’s been a little bit rough on me the last few years visiting well-known national parks like Glacier and Death Valley.  But even the most-visited parks have overlooked trails…

We hardly saw another soul in Grotto Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California
We hardly saw another soul in Grotto Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California

In early 2011 or 2012, I picked up a back-issue of Backpacker Magazine at the library.  The cover story kept me up late as I poured over it, dead to the world around me: A one-eyed combat veteran was hiking the Appalachian Trail to “find God.”  But this wasn’t just a generalized search for “whoever might be out there” – this young man was seeking the God who created the Universe.  The entire article dedicated itself to this man and the others who were going out into the wilderness to connect with their heavenly Father.

I was stunned.  First, that a magazine like Backpacker would carry a story so overtly Christian (I’ve found since then that many stories in Backpacker mention faith and they’re not shy about mentioning Christians and church).  Second, that the idea of God in the wilderness was more wide-spread than just what my family joked about: “God calls His children into the wilderness to meet with them; we just go voluntarily.”

I couldn’t forget that article.  And the idea of God in the wilderness – meeting with Him there, being ministered to Him as we hiked in the wilderness – grew within me.  In 2016, I finally gave in to God’s call on me to begin writing about this very topic on my blog.  I called it Jesus Sees the Wilderness.

The last hike I did on my most recent trip was the Lathrop Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
The last hike I did on my most recent trip was the Lathrop Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

And that more or less brings us up to today.  I still write for the Jesus Sees the Wilderness tag almost weekly.  I still plan trips – though I prefer it when God tells me where to go.  (A few years ago, He told me to go to the Oregon coast.  I said, “Yes, Lord!” then, “Where is there to do on the Oregon coast?  I have no idea!”)  I still meet with God in the wilderness.  Sometimes it’s intentional; other times, it’s just walking with Him on a trail up the mountain in fellowship.  Either way, it is my desire to see the reality of two things: 1) for the Glory of God to cover the earth , and 2) to see creation released of its bondage, as in Romans 8:19, because the sons and daughters of God have been revealed.

One thought on “My Testimony, Part 2

  1. Greg

    Such an awesome testimony. I find myself in awe of God every time I get to go out with my boys and experience nature and his full glory. There are days I question everything and just a walk outside to see his beauty takes care of that. Thank you for sharing.