Last Sunday we had a hike through Red Rocks Open Space as our youth activity. It was fun. It was also beautiful. It was interesting the difference between the way many of the youth made the hike and the way I did. The youth were always wanting to climb things and explore all the side spurs to the trail that we were on. I on the other hand, am a more slow-footed and heavy breathing sort, and stuck to the trail (although after losing over 40 pounds and working out regularly the hike was much easier than the hike last year). But they kept running past all the pretty stuff. Alan Gale and I were taking in the pretty lake, the beauty of the rock quarry, watching the rock climbers, and taking all the stuff in. As we started walking through the most narrow parts of the trail I remarked to one of the teenagers, “Look at that plant.” He was totally uninterested and gulped down the next swig of his energy drink.
I was thinking, “How can anyone not be awestruck by this beauty?”, but the youth were thinking, “Wow, this sure is fun to play in!” I couldn’t help but thinking they were missing something.
Rob Bell, a teacher in the emerging church movement, talks about Moses in the wilderness tending sheep. He wonders aloud, how many burning bushes did Moses miss that God was trying to speak to him through before he wandered on the burning bush that God spoke to him through that read of in the book of Exodus? It is a good question.
As we have been learning in our Sunday School class “God is Closer than You Think”, God is always and ever surrounding us, calling out to us, speaking to us, and yet we often run right past him. There are burning bushes all around us of different kinds. The mountains speak of God’s power. The rivers speak of His grace and His willingness to care for and provide for us. Our friends and family speak of God’s grace and forgiveness, but often times we miss the message. We are too busy trying to make God do things our way, in the way we want or expect. We are too busy racing around the trail, yelling at God to keep us safe. And He keeps calling out to us to slow down, to take time to listen and to look and be drawn into the wonder of the way that He has provided for us.
I urge you to take time to see, listen to, and embrace the God that surrounds you and longs to bless you in this last month of summer. Here a couple of suggestions on how to do that:
1. Take a couple of hours, turn off the cell phone, get away from people, and spend some time in silence and solitude.
2. Go on a hike, or take a scenic drive somewhere nearby.
3. Make a list of 10 people that mean something special to you. Write them a note and tell them the things you appreciate about them. In turn you will see how blessed you are by those loved ones around you.
4. Volunteer at the Marian House for a meal.
5. Choose one verse a day to memorize, think about, and carry with you for a month.
6. Sleep in and wear your PJs until dinner and watch movies that you have been wanting to see.
7. Say no to something you think you should do, but do not want to do. God will understand. He might even smile.