It is cold the morning we climb. Strap snowshoes onto our boots. Head out while still dark. House quiet. Kids asleep.
The break has been needed. Away from home. The pace of running too fast, too long. I look up here. White aspens, bare fingers stretch to the most pale blue sky.
I am a Three on the Enneagram, which means slowing is counterintuitive. Going forward, doing what feels productive, is what feels comfortable.
But this is not what is best for my soul.
It takes intention, this battle for the health of my heart.
This is the second time I climb the snow-packed hill. The first is on a whim. In a restful house full of friends and family hundreds of miles from home, days before New Year’s, I pull on boots and walk into approaching dusk.
To walk in beauty. To look for Father’s footsteps. To grasp Jesus’ hand. To listen for Holy Spirit’s voice.
It is a hard, steep climb, my feet not accustomed to the snowshoes’ width, legs tired from skiing most of the day. Half-way up, I have to start pausing to catch my breath. And then begin counting steps each time I stop. 80. 100. Keep going ‘til you get to that fence, then that tree.
At the top, my calves burning, I am quiet. My God is quiet too. I feel no pressure to find words. Whether I can feel Him or not, my heart knows He is here. I am confident He is close. I am a daughter who loses her way, a daughter He, over and over again, tucks in close and brings home.
He is with me, in the silence, in the waiting. And I want to remember His presence with me here. So I bend forward where I kneel, my knees crunched in snow. And I pick up a piece of wood, a smoothed, flattened nub of branch, a half-inch wide and two-inches long. It is tucked in the snow at the top of the hill. Here, I remember, is where I climbed, and waited, and anticipated the presence of God.
It is quiet here. Darkness falling. And I don’t hear anything–not His voice, not a nudge, not a whisper. But I recognize His presence. I feel his breath, the cold air on my face. He is with me. That is enough. I stand, holding the stick in my right pocket. My left hand holding Jesus’ as I walk down.
* * * I want to climb the hill again.
It is early morning of New Year’s Day, two days after my afternoon walk, when Justin and I climb together. It is much easier this time—legs fresh, lungs determined. We speak little, listening to the crunch of snow under boots, the sound of our breath in our wool-covered ears. We watch the sky begin to turn. Deep blue. Slightly pink-gold. We reach the top and stand, holding hands, consecrating this moment, this morning, this day, this year to Him.
We pray, give our hearts again to our Father. God, what do you have to say?
And I hear Him this time. Justin prays aloud at this very beginning of the new year, his hand in mine, our boots in snow, the sun rising behind mountains, his voice speaking out thanksgiving, hope, promise, return. And I hear the voice of my Father, his voice in my heart, speaking over us: the promise of hope in the midst of trial, his presence equipping us to face challenges as we lean into Him, standing in his truth, fighting alongside Him.
And this standing with Him . . . begins with fighting for our own hearts.
Fighting for my own heart is something I have been neglecting to do for months now. Many months. What I love to do? What I am made to do? These things I have been ignoring. I have been chasing the satisfaction of the urgent rather than the important. And what is urgent is often a distraction from the important—a task, a request, a situation that, actually, ironically, can usually wait. For the important pulls me into deeper relationship with God. The important fuels what I need for the urgent. The important is both practical and romantic—a move, an action, a decision that leads to falling more deeply in love with my Father.
And above all else, I want to fall more deeply in love with God.
He keeps speaking, the sun glistening on snow. And, while of course, I know He knows I hear Him, I want to acknowledge my own hearing, I want to respond. He is asking me to stand. He is promising that I will stand. He is inviting me to trust Him and follow Him and stand.
And the sacred echoes of his voice continue, as I listen, and I wait, and I respond—my heart hungry to answer the call of the Father, the call of the important, not the urgent.
I learn that “stand,” in Hebrew, means to endure, to remain—to stand both in body and attitude.
Father, this is what I want to do: stand with You, in every way. My whole heart is Yours.
And Justin and I walk down.
What excites you about this new year? How is God inviting you to fall more deeply in love with Him?