At The Forefront
Hello friends! Hope all is going well for you. Just wanted to update you on my adventures out here in Utah. So far this summer has been an absolute blast! I know I’ve said this earlier in a previous blog post and it might sound a little cliche, but I can’t express how thankful I am to have been given the opportunity to spend my summer here at Lake Powell. Since being here I’ve been able to make some awesome new friendships with people from various countries, brush up on my sermon writing skills, and explore God’s amazing creation here in southern Utah. This summer has flown by, but despite that fact, I feel like I can leave here at ease, knowing that I truly made the most of my experiences here.
One thing I’ve managed to do since I’ve been here is to go beyond the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and explore areas outside the park. Seeing as that Lake Powell itself doesn’t lend itself to many hiking opportunities (it is a lake after all), I’ve resorted to exploring other areas of Utah to get my hiking fix. It’s been so rewarding too! So far I’ve visited four national parks and have made plans with my friends and ministry team to visit even more. I’ve hiked the remote but incredibly beautiful Needles in Canyonlands, I’ve swam to the base of a waterfall near Escalante, and I’ve been through so many slot canyons that I’ve started to lose track of the ones I’ve visited. I’m always amazed at the vastness and diversity of the landscape here too - just driving a few minutes can bring you to an entirely different climate/region. I remember at one point, as me and my friends were driving on highway 12 through the Dixie National Forest, I looked out over the 10,000 foot plateau we were on and my jaw just dropped. Past the pine trees that lined the hillside, you could see the red canyons and massive buttes that decorated the desert floor. It was truly breathtaking. And sometimes as you look out at those incredible vistas, it’s almost like you can see God’s goodness. You realize how small you really are, and how big our Creator really is.
And while hiking is in and of itself fun [ At least I think so :) ], it’s so much better to share in the experience with your friends. I’ve hiked with a self proclaimed city-girl from Philly, I’ve hiked with a Bulgarian who has never seen the desert before, and I’ve hiked with a guy who seems to know every inch of trail here in southern Utah. Not only has it been nice to hike these incredibly scenic trails with these awesome people, but it’s also been nice to just chat with them about their lives. There are so many different personalities out here in Bullfrog and it’s been such a blast getting to know each and every one of them.
However, sometimes I can get caught up in “the fun of it all.” In fact, I’ll often catch myself spending large amounts of time planning trips or researching new places to explore, only to realize that I hadn’t read my Bible at all for that day. In total honesty, I sometimes find myself guilty of prioritizing my fun over my one and real true mission: to reach people for Jesus and to carry on our ministry here. It’s a constant battle of old self vs. new creation. But whenever I find myself struggling with this issue, I remember the words of Paul found in Galatians 5:24: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” And while hiking probably wouldn’t be considered a “desire of the flesh” that this verse is referring to, selfishness certainly is. And sometimes I struggle in this area when I want to “see it all.” But I shouldn’t be concerned with my will, I should be concerned about God’s.
And let’s face it, God’s will is to love on the share the Gospel with the people of Bullfrog, not hike all the nearby national parks, and there’s a huge need for that. Just like the baggage that often wears us down on long hikes, people carry baggage here as well - burdens that they just can’t seem to shake off by themselves. One man in particular comes to mind. He is an older gentlemen who spends most of his day drinking far too much. Often when I talk to him, he brings up his ex-wife, and the messy separation that still haunts him. The constant drinking has also taken a toll on his health. My heart hurts when I see him because he often looks, tired, breathless, and relatively sad. He even admitted to me that he’s not sure how much time he has left. To add to it all, he recently told me that his cancer is back, and that there was no way he was going to put his body through chemo again. “That’s not living,” he told me. I invited him to our worship services but he politely declined my offer. He told me he grew up Southern Baptist, and in fact his father was a minister, but it seemed as if he had been burned by the church at some point growing up. Because of this, he has been turned off to “organized religion” ever since. Still I pray for him.
At the end of the day, I want to remember the people I’ve met here and the work we’ve done with our ministry - not the fun hikes and excursions I’ve gone on. Because though they are fun, they simply don’t matter in the scheme of eternity. I continually pray that I can keep Jesus at the forefront of everything. After all, He is what gives my life meaning. I am simply a vessel that He continually pours into, despite my unworthiness for such a remarkable blessing. That’s a promise I can cling to.