A Time for Everything (Even the Desert)

Views below Duck Pass, California

Views below Duck Pass, California

In our walk with Christ, there are seasons: times of refreshing, wilderness seasons, times of great growth and of living out that growth.  As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3,

 

There is a time for everything,

And a season for every activity under the heavens…

 

A time to tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…

A time to search and a time to give up

A time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend…

Atop Mt. Starr, Mono Pass in Inyo National Forest, California

Atop Mt. Starr, California

In my life, the times and seasons of the soul have mirrored the elements of the places God has led us to travel in the wilderness.  I first noticed this as we (accidentally, but that’s another story) followed the Oregon Trail from the Midwest to the coast of Washington (once considered Oregon Territory).  At that time, we were being called as a group to be pioneers, spiritually speaking.  It wasn’t intentional on our part, but God mirrored what He was doing in us by leading our travels.

Egypt in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

Egypt, Utah

For about the next six years, we were in what many people would call a “desert season”.  And guess what: We hung out in the desert.  From Big Bend, Texas to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California, and a lot of dry and deserted parks in between, we hiked sand dunes, cactus trails, and rock formations.  And along the way we found beautiful wildflowers, desert oases, and waterfalls in some of the most barren canyons I’ve ever seen.

Wildflowers in a sand dune, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Wildflowers in a sand dune, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

After that, we were called to the mountains.  I’ve never heard of a mountain season, although I’ve heard of “mountaintop experiences” or “going around the mountain” or even symbolism directed at climbing a mountain.  I liked this season, in part because mountaintop experiences are fun, and in part because I’ve always liked the mountains, so visiting them is sheer joy.

More recently, we’ve been called to the coast; to the ocean.  And while I’ve made sure we had plenty of mountains, too, we’ve spent time walking beaches and headlands.  Again, I’ve never heard of a coastline season, though there are plenty of metaphors out there for tides, beaches, oceans, etc.  But as we saw sea stacks, ocean birds and sea life, and the wildly different coastal habitat, we learned to love it, too, as much as the mountain peaks (both spiritually and physically).

Sea arches in Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Sea arches in Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

This year, we’ve been called back to the desert.  It’s time to fall in love with the desert again.  Actually, while I didn’t mind the spiritual “desert” season, I’m not sure I ever fell in love with the physical desert.  It is nice.  But it’s not something I can just look at and love.

Views from Hopi Point into the Grand Canyon of Arizona

Views from Hopi Point into the Grand Canyon

And so I am learning to love the desert.  I started before we left on our most recent hiking adventures, but there’s nothing like having the chance to live out what you’re learning.  I am learning that God loves the desert as much as He loves the mountains; that there is beauty and life in the dryness.

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