Posted by Brenda VanWinkle

Encountering God In Unexpected Ways


Though we now live in the mountains we don’t get out much. That is, we haven’t done much in the actual mountains since moving here as winter came and had a hard time leaving. It was a fine winter as winters go, but it didn’t do much for my longing to walk on a beach and find sea glass. I wouldn’t want to say I had an attitude but whether I want to say it or not, I did.

‘Whine’ is such an unpleasant word, don’t you agree? Just saying it sounds like doing it and nobody likes a whiner. So I have searched for another way to describe that expression of complaint – no, that’s too strong. Of explanation – no, that’s too weak. Of stating one’s unhappy emotions surrounding a given situation. No, way too PC. Try as I may, it seems I am stuck with ‘whine’ to describe my recent attitude. Times like this I wish I were blogging about someone else. After all, why should I have to… oh dear, there I go again.

A recent weekend brought warm, sunny weather to the area so Jim and I decided to make the most of it and hike a mountain trail. We headed out and soon discovered that the trail we’d chosen is actually a streambed of sorts. That is, when there is heavy rain or snow melt this particular trail hosts a torrent of water following gravity downhill, and here we were hiking against gravity toward the top. It was clear to see how water has formed patterns in the rocks and some of the lower dips and crevices were wet from recent rains. As I climbed I quickly became aware of a number of differences between walking on a beach vs. a mountain. These include the use of different muscles and strengths; a very different aspect and therefore, over look and view; whereas the sea brings fresh, moist air, mountain air is dry and thin. Even while looking around at the spectacular view I was aware of the little bit of nagging in the back of my head that looped the message (whining) that I’d rather be on a beach. I don’t like to admit it, but there it is and confession is good for my soul.

Each step of our climb was calculated and strategic in that we had to keep looking down to find the secure spot for our next movement and as I looked down at one particular place I found a curious gift in the most unexpected of places: I discovered mountain glass. Little bits of glass from broken bottles were hidden behind stones and in the sand. Tumbled about by the torrents of water that had flowed over them, they were smoothed and shaped, though not etched as is sea glass by the ocean’s salt. I was in awe and I was so happy as I realized the very One who knows I long for the sea met me there on the mountain, through such a little thing as broken glass. His presence was strong in my soul as I repented for having complained: surely He is able to find me and meet me wherever my feet take me.

A recent blog about the Fear of the Lord and our need for it to increase in our lives hopefully awaked the awareness of its power and importance. A few of you wrote me wonderful thoughts on it as well and I thank you. I love hearing back and learning from you. For me personally, it was a reminder to be thankful and stop whining. The Emmanuel we sing about at Christmas is with us not only for that season but each and every moment of each and every day. When I take time to be aware that He is presently present my attitude improves and my expectations brighten.

Psalm 121 begins with a statement and a question: I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? The psalmist is not saying his help comes from the hills but rather the One who created the hills and mountains and holds them in His hand. Such a mighty, powerful and creative God we serve. This inspires fear- the awe and reverence such a One deserves. Finding the bits of glass was not the highlight of my hike, rather, knowing the One who created and holds in His hand the very rocks that form these Rocky Mountains sees me, knows my longings and met me there.

Chances are you will not encounter the reality of Emmanuel by finding glass on a mountain trail: that’s the beauty of this walk with Him. He meets each of us where we are. This week, may we remember to be aware. To be thankful. To whine less and worship more. To look up and out at what surrounds us, yet be mindful of each step along the journey. To realize that some seasons find us restfully walking along an expansive beach while other times challenge our breath and muscles and resolve as life appears to be all uphill. May we find reflections of His heart toward us in the little surprises we discover along the way. May we love Him more, fear Him through awe and wonder and reverence, and may we delight in Loving Those Around Us – as well as ourselves – To Life. Finding JOY in the routine of the day-to-day is a most curious find in the most unexpected of places. This is my prayer for us all.



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