When I was a kid, we lived in rural Pennsylvania. I spent hours searching for crayfish in small creeks, climbing trees, building forts, and making necklaces out of honeysuckle tendrils. Each night I came home in time for dinner but I longed for the following morning when I could be out on an adventure as soon as I’d shovel in my breakfast. Off I’d go, climbing up massive dirt piles made by construction workers building new houses. I felt alive! From a very young age, I knew what it meant to feel alive. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that the woods, fields, and adventures of my childhood have kept me coming back–they’ve helped me continue to stay alive.
I believe that wilderness calls out to us because it was meant to! Recently, I heard Kris Vallotton speaking on the topic of the resurrection and how a seed growing from out of the ground is actually showing us the resurrection. Creation points out the promises of God! When we allow our feet to take us into its endless landscapes, the Lord uses it to bring us life. Creation literally breathes God’s hope into me. I feel like His massive hands somehow lift me out of the heavy dirt of life when I am immersed in His indescribable landscapes.
“What jaw-dropping, astounding power is Yours! You are the Mountain-Maker who sets them all in place…O God, to the farthest corners of the planet people will stand in awe, startled and stunned by Your signs and wonders. Sunrise brilliance and sunset beauty both take turns singing their songs of joy to You…Every field is watered with the abundance of rain—showers soaking the earth and softening its clods, causing seeds to sprout throughout the land…Luxuriant green pastures boast of Your bounty as You make every hillside blossom with joy…the fertile valleys are clothed with grain, each one dancing and shouting for joy, creation’s celebration. And they’re all singing songs of praise to You.” Psalm 65:6-13
Erin and I brought a group of high-school kids backpacking to Rocky Mountain National Park years ago. I remember sitting in my Crazy Creek chair after dinner was served watching as this flowing fog came down the mountainside and filled the valley right where we encamped. I watched as it came nearer and nearer. Finally, I had to get up and walk to the edge of our campsite to get closer to it. It was epic! I watched it swirl around me and past me, flowing around our campsite. I was mesmerized. I have rarely seen such a beautiful and mysterious thing in nature. In that moment, I heard the Lord whisper, “Adge, why have you gotten so serious?” I remember thinking, What an odd question for a moment like this? And so I dismissed it. Then I heard it again in a still, small voice. “Why have you become so serious?” Silence. I felt defensive for some reason. But I’m not. I mean, I’m 26. I’m on Young Life staff. I love my job. I have a great life, a great marriage. I laugh a lot—especially being married to Erin Hale. I’m not… Silence. “Why have you become so serious?” I looked at that beautiful swirling fog around me, dancing in the meadow so light and graceful, and I finally said, Lord, I don’t know. I don’t know why, but I feel tired. I feel like I’m carrying a lot right now. Carrying the hearts of these broken high-school kids. Carrying the lives of the two high-school kids who’ve been living with us for months because they don’t have the homes they deserved…the homes they were meant to have but their parents couldn’t provide. I’m on a fast-moving train of ministry and life. I can’t seem to get off of it long enough to even listen to my heart, Lord. To listen to you. To stop. And it makes me anxious, stressed…and serious. I don’t remember getting a direct answer from the Lord as to how not to be so serious, but I think that was purposeful. It made me think. Am I alive? Have I been tamed by the weight of things I’m not meant to carry? If I don’t feel alive, but I’m not dead, then what the heck am I? Why did He ask me this question?
I think Jesus asks us phenomenal questions wanting us to journey to the answer with Him. There is a sacred process when we don’t have the answer right away and I think it’s His way of continuously inviting us to where the answer lies–in His heart speaking to those deep places in our hearts. When He asks me a question and I don’t know what to do with it, I will then ask, "What next, Lord?" Sometimes I’ll see a memory, a picture, or a story and from there something will start to flow, like that wondrous fog. Sometimes I just sit with the question and think about what I’m going through that day. Often I just sit and feel grateful that the God that made the towering peaks and vast oceans cares to ask me any question at all. God’s always wanting to put His huge hands around us and lift us into a closeness with Him so we can get perspective. I don’t know that we can hear God’s questions if we don’t steal away and allow ourselves the space and time to hear them.
Recently, my husband asked me how I was doing. That’s such a big question. Often my default move is to say, “I’m fine,” and then go about my day super busy with the kids and life stuff, never really stopping to think about the question (and most certainly not the answer). But this day I didn’t use my default answer. Instead, I answered him by saying, “You know, I just need a day to go for a hike and have no time constraints. Would Friday work?” Ever in my corner, he replied, “Friday works for me. Go and do it.”
When Friday morning came, I was giddy. I packed a lunch, my journal, a few books, and my neon green Nalgene and climbed Blodgett Peak in the backyard of Colorado Springs. When the landscape changed on my hike I texted Erin a picture, which I kind of saw this as a love note to my husband. I wanted him to see that this gift of time away that he had given me was making his wife more alive. Surrounded by towering forests, it was so richly quiet. Richly quiet. I texted, I’m at peace. When I found a massive rock to climb to an overlook, I typed, I am bold. When I got to a series of dead trees that had been burned years ago in a fire, I wrote, God makes me alive. Simple things but typing those things helped me mark what I was feeling. This is how I want to live on a daily basis. It felt good to MOVE and it felt good to have my legs burning from fatigue. It felt necessary to then turn off my phone and sit at the peak for hours–to sit in silence with my heart and hear the questions the Lord might want to ask.
I think sometimes it is necessary to get away from everyone and everything so that you can stay alive. I feel a strong sense to put that out there. To get out of your concrete building and drywall-filled suburban homes and get into where resurrection calls…out in the beauty of this world He has given us. If that means heading out to a park with your kids, then do it…for you to lay down on a blanket and look at the clouds or just close your eyes and feel the breeze and inhale the scents of new flowers blooming and freshly mowed grass. However, my Sisters, I think we have to be more tenacious than that when it comes to keeping our hearts alive. I think it takes clearly and timely asking for what we need AND then accepting the gift of time away and running with it—not feeling guilty for time away from loved ones…our littles, our families, our husbands, or our jobs or house projects.
I came home that night and my husband asked, “How was it? What did you hear?” And I said, “I don’t have a complete answer for that. I just felt alive.” Erin could see it—he could see what being out in creation with the Creator does to his wife. She comes alive and beams!
What questions would Jesus ask you if you stole away for a while and just allowed Him to ask you about your heart? How are you keeping your heart alive? I hope to see you out on the trails…out on the prairies…out in the vast meadows, rivers, and shores. After all, He created those for you!
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!