As we descended from the high elevation of the Cascades and the Sierras and down into the desert, I couldn’t help sensing a powerful metaphor in the making. We were heading from the peace of mountains, deep, cold rivers and back to the desert where the hard, dry work awaited; from paradise and peace into the digital doldrums and brokenness the world had in store.
It was not all nostalgia. We were listening to Men to Match My Mountains, a history of the settling of the West. The historic backdrop of our rough and tumble predecessors chasing a dream made for a healthy repass of their values, stories and simpler life. Our vacation stirred a desire to return to that time of adventure in the great outdoors, uncomplicated struggle to survive. Wouldn’t it be easier to pan for gold, sip whisky, start from scratch and throw your smartphone into a snow drift…?
Faced with the prospect of more flat screens and a pixelated reality, I recalled what invariably strengthened me to effectively take on life’s challenges: shrugging off negative feelings and channeling them to find reason; praying through difficulties and doubt; becoming “dead to lies”, half-truths, rumor, and conspiracy, refusing a quick judgement; recalling and giving thanks for the blessings received: faith, family, country. These became the go-to sources of renewal.
Then it dawned on me. Summer trips had been a trek to find trout. Yet the true power of these trips wasn’t just the mountains lakes, rivers and trout, it was also seeing God’s fingerprint in them. Admiring God’s handiwork is also a source of strength I sometimes fail to recall.
Observing a child at play and wondering what God’s plan is for this small bundle of potential, is truly refreshing, a source of renewal like none other. Children are a gift to the world; they remind us of God’s interaction with us and the bigger plan in store for us.
Fresh off vacation it was more evident to me that it requires child-like simplicity to contemplate God’s creation. This simplicity and creation itself both have a powerful ability to renew us. The world did not create itself. Seeing it as a “created” does not deify the world but permits us to see the Deity’s work.
Acknowledging things as created is akin to a distant harmony we hear but cannot locate and yet it still comforts us. The rivers and lakes found in the Cascades and the Sierras reflects a more profound beauty. The smile of an innocent child reminds us a better time and a deeper calling.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Working in the pro-life movement is full of challenges and discouragement as well as great victories. Each time our team can encourage a mother and family to choose life, we recall what is most basic. A life is saved, and everyone involved is renewed. It can renew our country.
A summer trip can bring us back to the basic motivations that give life and joy. Seeing the world in a child-like way, harkening back to a more innocent appreciation of our surroundings allows us to find that distant harmony we desire and eventually a heavenly Kingdom.