Yesterday the Lord returned me to the Fourth Mountain to hike the opposite direction.
Beginning the ascent up Victoria Trail, the weather itself entirely opposite my last visit: with temperature climbing close to 100°. Yet I never felt more alive and energized!
The entire journey was shared by a dancing duet of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies. Always in pairs, a constant reminder of reproducing life.
Reaching the ridge line, I heard a cry and looking up, spotted a pair of bald eagles dancing in flight! Like the eagles, my spirit soared with Almighty God.
Then at my feet, was a dead Luna Moth. They only live one week in order to reproduce.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Along the way, it became apparent that I’d not chosen the best possible footwear; although “broken in” and adequate for my “routine” daily walks, barely appropriate for the rocky terrain.
The parallel to the morning’s verse not lost.
Happily, security was not contingent upon the insufficiency of my footwear but on the All-Sufficiency of the Almighty!
The prospects of a bear sighting vie for a hiker’s attention and it would be easy to focus on distant shadows in the woods along the trail, which would be an injury-causing mistake. In several areas along this ridge, the rocks get sharp and nasty and it’s easy to turn an ankle, especially when rocks that appear to be stable are not. Thankfully, the awareness of my improper footwear combined with the prospect of poisonous snakes lent to better eye-foot coordination.
The remoteness and need for hydration heightened by unbroken solitude, made each step more in tune to God’s still Voice.
Marcel Proust in The Eyes of a Dreamer says:
“Christians today desperately need the eyes of dreamers. Solutions lie not in focusing upon the rocks in the path but on the possibilities ahead.”
There is no fear in love and beginning the ascent, my Father placed a song in my heart that was teaching me how to focus (“In The Garden“, 1911 C. Austin Miles).
The song and hike shifted my FOCUS properly on REPRODUCING HIS LIFE not avoiding the “obstacles” along the way.
Real enough, they were not to be feared because they were a part of life.
And my life is in His hands.
He showed me that asking to remove the enemy’s “road blocks” was myopic.
They actually were allowed by Him in answer to my prayers for training in His ways!
Through them, I was learning to rely, leaning more on Him, in focusing vision and tuning hearing to walk steadfastly.
“In The Garden”, itself a parallel to the “morning” rising to seek Him early in life’s garden. The first and ultimate communion taking place therein.
The most strategic and greatest morning in a garden was when Mary Magdalene went seeking Jesus while it was yet very dark.
There, just before the dawn, Jesus speaks her name. Just one word from Him erases all doubts, sorrows and longing. All the past is swallowed up in the presence of the Living Present and Eternal Future.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” yet to the faithful who watch and wait as in the night, the Light shines in the darkness and it is not overcome.
And through the darkness just as morning dawns, Love illuminates the Way as Christ comes over every separating mountain to His own true love.
There is HOPE for a new dream in the darkest of circumstances.
“I will show you the way in the desert, I will give you streams in the wasteland. When life, when ministry, when relationships, when work, when money all “seem” hopeless, I will provide a dream!” I will provide a Way! And out of your belly will flow My rivers of living water.”
The pleasure and profit of sin do not deserve to be called fruit. Sinners are but ploughing iniquity, sowing vanity, and reaping the same.
Shame came into the world with sin, and is still the certain effect of it. The end of sin is death. Though the way may seem pleasant and inviting, yet it will be bitterness in the latter end.
From this condemnation the believer is set at liberty, when made free from sin. If the fruit is unto holiness, if there is an active principle of true and growing grace, the end will be everlasting life; a very happy end! Though the way is up-hill, though it is narrow, thorny, and beset, yet everlasting life at the end of it is sure. The gift of God is eternal life. And this gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, preserves us to it; he is the All in all in our salvation.
(Matthew Henry comments, Romans 6:21-23).
As we rise early, seeking His face, we find the only real obstacles removed from the “soil” or our own hearts
As the trail continues along the ridge, there is a thick understory of sassafras bushes:
sassafras is a tree with three different leaves, and is very fragrant, its green twigs are hairy under magnification, curving upward like candelabras. The inner bark is the living part of a tree, and its exterior made from tiny cells which have died.
Philippians 4:9, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
All around me, God was speaking reproduction!
In the courtship dance of the swallowtails, typically the female numbers are proportionate to the nectar sources. When a female appears, a male flies towards her and performs a brief courtship ritual, lasting less than a minute. If the female is receptive to the courtship, copulation occurs, often lasting over an hour. Both males and females often copulate with multiple partners. A fertilized female oviposits in the warm portion of the day, laying eggs singly on young host leaves.
The bald eagles courtship is displayed in elaborate calls and flight.
The presence of the dead luna moth a reminder that their sole purpose being to reproduce. Their pheromones, specific chemical messengers that enable communication during courtship and mating.
Today I learned that the Clark’s Valley is the bottom of a long syncline.
Sharp and Peter’s Mountain (the Third and Fourth Mtns.), are the two sides and Cove Mountain, across the Susquehanna River, is the end. From the air, the whole looks like a huge parabola.
-Backpacker Magazine’s Guide to the A.T. by Jim Chase.
Which led me to ask what does a parabola represent?
It is the Spanish word for “parable!”
A satellite dish is parabolic
The purpose of a satellite dish is to collect the signal from the satellite and focus it onto the receiver. Placing the receiver at the focus of the parabola will thus result in a dish that will reflect all signals from the satellite to the receiver.
An important property of the parabola is that every signal from the satellite that strikes the dish and is thus reflected to the focus travel the same distance regardless of where it strikes the dish. And it thus assures that all signals reach the focus “in phase” and do not interfere with each other.
When one is aligned with Heaven “parabollically”, the power of Heaven resonates within the image-bearer and transfers a reflection of His glory outward.