Looking North From Glenn Pass With Rae Lakes Below
(John Muir Trail-Kings Canyon National Park)
Fr. Dale Matson
*“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18, ESV)
Some of the continuing struggles I have are understanding my experiences in light of God's guidance. The questions are twofold. 1. Is this experience bad? 2. Is this experience from God? I was hiking last week and met a bear on the narrow switchbacks as I ascended. A bear is something I always feared both in reality and my dreams. It surprised me that I had no fear during or after the encounter. God was saying to me that anticipatory fear is not faith. The weather began to deteriorate as the Sierras tend make their own weather. It began to rain as I continued to climb. Then it began to thunder and lightning around me. I was considering turning around and wondered if God was in this hike with me or wanted me off the mountain. I was about 14 miles out from the trailhead and only needed 10 more miles to reach my overnight destination at Rae Lakes. I could still get back to the trailhead by dark if necessary. Sometimes I wonder where the line is between fearfulness, appropriate fearfulness and foolishness.
I decided to continue hiking, knowing that my gear would stay dry and my rain jacket would keep me from getting wet also. As I continued to climb up to Glenn Pass before dropping down to Rae Lakes, the sky began to clear the rain began to stop. I said, “Lord, I guess You wanted me to keep going.” At that point, I thought of three reasons why the rain had been good. The rain settled the dust on the trail. It made much of the climb cooler and I needed less water. Finally, it made the air clear and the photographs were not just clear but the light was outstanding. It reminded me that God is the Father of light and all that may pass between us including clouds and rain does not change His nature. He remains the same. He is Good, He is light and His gifts are good.
Finally, I was reminded of the verse from Romans, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Knowing and believing this, is there any other prayer than “Thy Will be done” that we should be praying without ceasing?
* Epistle reading for Feast Day of Joseph of Arimathaea Wednesday August 1st.