There are some high places in Wallowa county where I love to visit. Recently, we drove to the Hells Canyon overlook with friends.
When you get there, you have the most amazing view of the canyon below, the seven devils, and some pretty amazing geography. Something about being on a mountain top gets you a perspective that you normally don’t have.
Being earthbound, we often find ourselves looking up to the high places, but in Wallowa County, we have the opportunity to look from a high vantage point. To gain that perspective is sometimes difficult but here you can just get in your car and drive to those places that.
About three years ago, my good friend Kurt and I took four 11-year-old and under boys on a hike to Chimney Lake. It’s not a long hike, but it is steep in places.
None of us had been on this particular hike before so we didn’t know what to expect; I’m sure we are not the only ones who got to Laverty lakes and thought “We made it!” –– only to find we had another half mile or so to go.
All in all, it was a good day. We were tired and hungry with sore feet but what a great sense of accomplishment we had. I was so proud of the boys, some had never been on a hike of any kind. They made the whole journey with just the minimum of complaining. Every time I’m in the Wilderness, I am impressed with the views, and I think to myself, “I’m so glad I did this!”
On my regular walks over Tick Hill, I also feel the exhilaration of being on top of the world; somehow, I feel refreshed even with the physical exertion. I have made this hike many times, but each time, I feel that same refreshing.
The trail changes little with the seasons, but I never get tired of it. I know what to expect, yet each time, something about it is new.
Whatever concern or stress I have often dissolves and whatever problem I face seems less troublesome as I ascend. My mind and spirit are freed as my body fights the battle with the hill.
In Psalm 18, the psalmist David finds himself in a battle against a strong enemy; “I cried to my God for help.” (verse 6) “He parted the heavens and came down ...” (verse 9). “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (verse 16).
In a limited way, I know how David felt, though I have not been to war, I fight my battles every day. Financial, emotional, physical, relational and situational battles come against us all, and many of them are stronger than we are.
That is the time to cry out to God who fights on our behalf. At the same time, he trains us to fight our battles with His strength in place of our own.
All the while he beckons us upward to a new vantage point where we begin to see as He sees. Like my pastor and pilot friend, who when flying over a new building project, suddenly saw his problems from God’s perspective –– very tiny.
It must have been like that for John the Apostle who writes from exile in Revelation chapter 4: “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here ...’”
That must have been some view! So, whether the trail we walk is new and unfamiliar or often traveled, when we ask Almighty God for help, he gives it. And with David we can declare, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18:33)
Rev. Tim Barton is lead pastor of Wallowa Assembly of God Church in Wallowa.