Saturday, June 5, 2010

Palo Duro Canyon

“But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” -Luke 5:16

Jeanie and I spent the week in Amarillo. We had a great time with Elizabeth, Mark and Reese, our granddaughter. She is growing and absolutely beautiful. We also enjoyed the time with Mark’s parents, our good friends Donny and Lisa. Donny and I have been best buddies since the Young Life days in high school and have remained true brothers these 35 or so years.

Early Thursday morning, Donny handed me one of the best gifts I’ve received in a long time. He picked me up and we drove south of Amarillo to Palo Duro Canyon, the 2nd largest canyon in the United States (the Grand Canyon is number one). It was absolutely beautiful and we had a great time walking and running on the trails. God taught me some great lessons that morning as I enjoyed His creation.

•“Getting alone with God requires effort.”
We had to be intentional about going to the canyon. We had to get up early. We had to pay a fee to get into the State park. We had to decide to go. The saying that “if you close your eyes, you’ll be there” is a nice thought, but not true. Imagining being there is not being there. It takes sacrifice to get alone with God. Sure, God has done His part, sending His Son to die on the cross for us to qualify to have fellowship with Him, if by faith we confess our sins and believe in Him. The door is open. But we have to walk through the door. Just like marriage, sealing the covenant is great, but enjoying marriage day-to-day requires loving effort. It's not necessarily a geographical thing, but in my soul I have to “slip away,” as Jesus did, to be alone with my loving Creator. As a parent, I’m at my best when I’m having regular alone times with God.

•“If I focus too much on the trail, I miss the beauty.”
My buddy, Donny, gets credit for this one. The clay trails at the park wind through the beautiful red clay passes and have loose dirt as their base. They’re slippery and require focus. But if I focus on the path too much, I miss the beauty. We can sometimes get so focused on the trail that we forget to look up and see God’s awesome creation. The journey is important, but don't forget to slow down enough to see what God is doing. Palo Duro Canyon is beautiful. Pictured is the “lighthouse,” just one of the many landmarks throughout the park. But I have to be looking up to see them and enjoy what God has created.

•“Hiking is more fun with a buddy.”
Somehow, hiking is just more fun with a friend. Sure, in a way it's easier by ourselves as we decide where to go and when to stop. But it’s best to walk the trails with those we love. Every veteran trail guide warns the rookies to “never hike alone.” It’s a safety issue for sure, but it’s also a quality issue. Donny and I had a neat time talking and catching up on our lives as we journeyed along. God was walking with us as we had true fellowship with each other.

• “The wilderness magnifies prayer.”
Prayer is valid regardless of location, but when I’m “in” on God’s creation, the conversation flows like breathing. Donny and I enjoyed a beautiful time of prayer at the end of our hike. Too often I rush through a grocery list of prayers with God and miss the quality conversation with my loving God.

Be intentional about your times alone with God. Create gaps and sabbaticals in your schedule. Journey to the canyons and wildernesses in your world and walk with God.

As a result, you’ll be a better parent and you’ll enjoy the hike.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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