I’d like to say that Mike and I walked through God’s open door and lived happily ever after, but that would be a complete lie. Neither one of us walked through the door.
“I’m open to other options, but,” Mike said one day about two weeks later.
I knew there would be a ‘but.’
“I can’t believe or imagine God asking me to leave my church.”
What I heard in his comment was, “If God moves us to a place where I cannot go to my church, then I will go to another one.”
I struggled with Mike’s hesitation. Waiting for God to move us, put any resolution on hold for months or years. I opened my “God Calling”1 devotional, that morning and read:
“Only believe. The walls of Jericho fell. Was it axes or human implements that brought them down? No, rather songs of praise of the people and My thought carried out in action.
All the walls will fall before you too. Your faith and My power, the only two essentials. Nothing else needed.
So, if man’s petty opposition still holds good, it is because I choose to let it stand between you and what would be a mistake for you. Anyone can be moved at My wish. Rest in this certainty. Rely on Me.”
God is always on time. He did it again with this little devotional, written years ago but held in place for me on this day of wrestling.
I did scout out several churches on my own, but to be honest, none of them felt like home. In the end, we both went back to our respective places and continued as before.
In the next year and a half, many changes in the church occurred. Our ‘prophetic fireplace’ grew. The pastor was prophetic. He saw the value in bringing others together who were having dreams and visions and hearing God. We knew that no one gets the entire picture. God gives each of us pieces on purpose, making it imperative that we go to Him with questions. It builds our relationship with Him. But it is also helpful for us to share with each other and see where God is confirming His word.
We had a group of about twelve people who met every week. I was appointed scribe for the group. There, I shared my pieces but also took notes on everything others shared. I went home and typed up the high points and distributed the notes for prayer. When we came together the next week, the pastor usually had decisions to share with us, based on the revelation given.
One of the decisions born from those meetings was to merge with another local congregation of believers. Another couple who had been pastoring a group in Kansas also joined us. We doubled the size of our group at the end of February 1994. In the merge, we gained several experienced prophetic voices. It was wonderful. Healing and deliverance continued on a regular basis. We saw tumors disappear, families reconciled and baptisms increase.
Before long, we were holding weekend events at the church. On weekends, some of us traveled in small ministry groups. We taught congregations about the prophetic, etc. 1994 proved to be a year full of activity.
Early in the summer, the pastor had an experience with the Lord. He felt the prophetic team needed to go to Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado. “God is going to meet with us there,” he said. We started making plans. After securing a couple of cabins for early August, we prepared in prayer for the trip. Little did we know what a journey it would be.
When the time arrived, I’d been sick for two weeks with bladder infections. Just before leaving I had a scan for possible kidney stones. Plus, for reasons unknown, I had a swollen right wrist that all but immobilized my hand. This condition made scribing near to impossible. My body wanted to stay home, but my heart didn’t want to miss out. So, when the time came, we loaded into two cars and set out for Colorado and Estes Park. There were three guys and five women. We would meet another woman in Colorado who had moved from our fellowship earlier in the year.
After driving all day and arriving, we got settled in the cabins. Then we came together in prayer and conversation to map out the activities for the next day. There were several things we wanted to purchase before going to the falls. We planned a leisurely day and an early supper. Afterward, we’d drive up to the trailhead and see the map and layout of the land.
That morning, I awakened with every evidence of a vaginal infection. O happy day. As soon as the village drugstore opened, I got some medicine and on we went.
The rest of the day was spent looking for souvenirs. We trekked through Estes Park, huffing and puffing all the way. After all, we were plains dwellers now trying to navigate at 7,500 feet elevation.
At around four o’clock, we ate an early supper and headed up to the trailhead to look at the map. Our intent, at this point, was to familiarize ourselves with the landscape then, return to the cabins for a good night sleep. Then we would return in the morning refreshed for the hike to Bridal Veil Falls.
About four-thirty, we piled out of the cars to look at the mounted display boards at the trailhead. Calculating the distance, it seemed to be about six to eight miles to the falls. I noted the increasing elevation from our 7,500-foot base to near 12,000 feet at the peak. I began to have serious doubts that any of us, including myself, would ever make it, even under the best of circumstances.
As I look back at the notes from that trip, it is hard to look at the story and not want to scream. SCREAM at me! Every shred of wisdom or reason, every logical thought at the most basic level was set aside. Not one of them would listen to me as over and over I told them, “It’s too far for us to make it this evening. No, it’s not a two-hour trip. It will take four to six hours just to get to the falls. Please let’s start tomorrow morning. We are not prepared.”
Jared may have hiked before, but to my knowledge, none of the others had. Still, I backpacked with Mike in the Sierras. I’d done a lot of hiking at church camps in higher elevation, and I knew this was not going to be a stroll. As best I could, I tried to tell them we were not ready.
As debate and discussion ensued, the pastor said, “God wants us to start immediately. If we do, He will meet us at Bridal Veil Falls,” he added.
Well, I questioned whether God said this or not. It was illogical in every way and dangerous. I pleaded with them to reconsider, pointing out we had few provisions with us.
Between eight of us, we had a gallon of milk, one canteen, and some bread and grape juice we’d purchased for communion. We had a Bible, a camera, several peaches, anointing oil, a ram’s horn and one flashlight. Before dinner, we grabbed our sweatshirts or light jackets. It cooled off in the evening. But none of us put on hiking shoes. We weren’t dressed for hiking.
I was tired after almost no sleep in three days and illness of one sort or another for two weeks. Mia was downright scared because of her health limitations and she’d never hiked before.
“Surely, he’s kidding,” I reasoned. But no, the pastor wasn’t kidding. What was I going to do? I was still responsible before my Lord to be subject to His will, regardless of others.
Facing away from the group, I gazed up at the towers of rock before us. Massive pinnacles rose a good hundred feet in the air. I whispered a prayer. “Lord, what is going on? What is Your will?”
At that moment, I saw a dark object with a white top emerge from a crevasse high on the rock face. The object moved in and out of view, and I soon realized it was a bald eagle. I’d never seen one in the wild before. One of the prophetic words that initiated this trip was that the Lord was going to ‘hide us in the cleft of the rock.’ Here before me was an illustration of His word.
Turning to the others, I pointed to the eagle. They too got excited and believed it to be confirmation of the word to leave immediately.
So, with daylight already waning, we grabbed our stash and started down the trail. In my mind, I rationalized, “I must honor the authority God has placed over me. Plus, it appeared God confirmed the word.” Regardless of how illogical it looked to my mind, God did promise, before we ever left home, that we would discover new dimensions of His faithfulness on this trip.
“But Lord,” I argued, “we already know Your faithfulness.”
With patience, He said, “Yes, but you will experience it at a deeper level. In the future, you will be in countries, places, and situations, when you will this trip will come to mind. The fact that I was faithful here will give you the courage to go on in those situations.”
Without further debate, we were off. I was excited to see what God was going to do, yet inwardly fearful of what lay ahead.
After having hiked in earnest, I couldn’t help but cringe at how ill-prepared we were. We had, no backpacks, no hats, no hiking books, first aid, or matches. We had only one canteen for eight people and a gallon of milk. How ridiculous we must have looked.
We met other hikers on the trail. They were coming off the mountain and seemed more than amused at this motley crew. We looked like we were looking for a picnic spot in the next field. I’m not sure if we were obedient or idiots, but we believed God had called us to go, and so we went.
Even though Liz and I walked several miles every day at home, at this elevation we were wearing out with the rest of them. For a while, Emily, the pastor, Liz, Jared and I were ahead. Rachel, Sam, and Mia were far behind. They had youth in their favor, but they lacked experience and endurance.
Mia was beginning to panic now that dark was closing in and we were almost three hours into the hike. We had not seen any evidence of Bridal Veil Falls. Then we came to another trail marker pointing up an even steeper path. Next, it started raining.
The guys went on ahead to scout out the path, and the girls looked for a place to go to the bathroom. Suddenly, Mia was screeching and running up the rocks. “I was peeing down a snake hole!” she screamed. She didn’t realize it was a snake hole until after the fact. We all laughed. It helped to laugh.
The ascent was brutal. Huffing and puffing with each step, we struggled up the mountain. Ten steps, rest. Ten steps, rest. We were warring with our minds and forcing our flesh to keep moving. Mia became more agitated and soon was in tears. Rachel leaned up against a big pine tree to rest. I’d told them not to sit down to avoid leg cramps.
As Mia stumbled past Rachel, Rachel reached out and grabbed Mia to her like a mother bear. She hugged Mia to her chest. I was right behind Mia and knew she needed assurance and comfort as much as anything, so I hugged her from behind. Rachel started to laugh from her toes. She roared with laughter. Soon all three of us were laughing so hard we were in tears jiggling up and down in our three-way sandwich. Mia was able to go on, but fear continued to torment her.
When we caught up with the guys, the pastor suggested we all sit down. There were some large slabs of rock, and we all found a place. It was dark enough now that we were unable to read the Bible we brought with us. Still, we took communion and prayed for Mia. Almost instantly she calmed down and seemed to regain her strength. One minute she appeared to be facing death and the next, there was life.
Up to this point, I’d often questioned her weakness as being a ploy for attention. But seeing the miracle, I opened my eyes to the reality of her struggle. I was repentant in my heart for having judged her.
We felt renewed in our resolve to continue. A full moon broke through the clouds giving us some light. The guys surged on ahead of us five women as the trail once again became steep and narrow.
To our left, we could see the tops of trees in the moonlight. Their evergreen tops were even with our path. We couldn’t see the drop off in the dark. Seeing the trees gave us an indication of the danger we faced if we slipped off the trail.
With Mia in the lead now, the women joined hands forming a five-link chain. Mia began to sing, “I Will Follow Him,” and we all joined in. Despite the danger, the darkness, and our weariness, our voices rang out in commitment and love for our glorious Bridegroom.
“There isn’t an ocean too deep, a mountain so high it can keep, keep me away, away from my Love. I love Him, I love Him, I love Him, and where He goes, I’ll follow, I’ll follow. He’ll always be my True Love, my True Love, my True Love for now and to forever, forever, forever.” Courage grew as we continued singing. “We’re goin’ to the chapel, and we’re gonna get married.” Laughing, singing and hanging on to each other, we wound our way up and down the path.
Mia gave a spontaneous rap that made us giggle, but I can’t remember any of it now. She was as different as night and day. We all knew God moved and through her miracle, we were all encouraged and strengthened. We discovered that worship strengthened us. Worship bound us together through the roughest part of the path.
The moon went into hiding as the forest closed in around us again. Our single flashlight was our only set of eyes for hazards on the trail. We took turns in the lead and called out to those behind us, “Rock.” “Stump.” “Root.” “Big Rock.” We did our best to maneuver in the dark up a path filled with obstacles.
Psalm 119:105 came to mind. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” We had to trust in the light and the call of the leader. They set the pace as we supported each other and kept climbing.
~~ How About You? ~~
Have you ever been caught up in the excitement of a group activity and the group decides to do something that doesn’t bring peace to your spirit? It is not easy to question their intentions especially if you are the only one questioning. Prayer is sure needed as well. To this day, I don’t know if it was God or not leading us up that mountain. I do know He helped us and kept us safe.
He or someone provided the bald eagle and the scripture He gave us earlier. There aren’t any do-overs, and I was asking for His will. I don’t know.
One thing I do know. There were relationships forged on that mountain that will stand into eternity, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself with the story. Part 2 will give you a better picture.
For now, what does His word say?
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Proverbs 2:6-8 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
If you find yourself in such circumstances, ask God for direction and then act on the things you hear from Him. I believe, through experience, if you move trusting He is leading and you end up in a mess, He will deliver you and put you back on the right path. It is a life journey of relationship and learning. Rejoice because no matter where we are, He is with us and He will help us.
1 God Calling by Two Listeners, A. J. Russell, Publisher, Spire Books (1978)