(I usually leave the writing about our hikes to Frances. However, I thought I'd share a few considerations this week of our recent journey in Grayson Highlands National Park, Virginia. Thanks, Glen.)
"Response and Opportunity"
A herd of feral ponies lives in the Grayson Highlands, promising a much anticipated experience for many hikers and visitors to the area. We looked forward to seeing the animals introduced to Grayson for the purpose of controlling native grasses. We didn't, however, expect the experience to turn out quite as it did. While setting up camp on the first night of our hike, three of the ponies appeared from behind a stand of trees and approached us without hesitation. They were not violently aggressive, of course, but boldly came to us in hopes of obtaining food. You're not supposed to feed the ponies, and we didn't. However, one of the creatures began to lick Frances's legs and neck. They do this for the salt that remains on skin after sweating, something we did quite freely due to the warm temperatures. To say the least, Frances was not thrilled, and we shooed the ponies away.
Some things in life do not turn out as expected, either pleasantly or unpleasantly. We anticipated ponies, but didn't expect Frances to be the subject of their quest for minerals! (by the way, none of the ponies licked me. I think I might have heard one say something along the lines of "Yuck, I ain't putting my tongue on that!"). We don't control some of the experiences we encounter, but often simply respond to life as it happens. We may find ourselves thrown off balance by the unexpected, requiring a moment or maybe a few to regain our spiritual bearings. God made us to react to reality, and sometimes our human response does not immediately align with His purpose and working. Consider the two brothers mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, one who responded readily in word to his father's bidding, but who failed to act accordingly. The other initially hesitated, but came to his senses in obedient response. Which did the father's will? asked the Lord Jesus. (Matthew 21:28-31). The obvious answer confirms that our initial response, whether positive or negative, does not always lead to reciprocal action. Thus, when life throws us off balance and we fail to instantly respond in faith and faithfulness, all is not lost. Certainly we want to come to our senses as quickly as possible, and as we do, we recognize that our initial human response presents us with opportunity for the choice to replace the fleshly with the spiritual. We "put on" the truth of Scripture and thus "put off" the fleshliness of our first reaction (Ephesians 4:22-24).
We never saw the herd of ponies. We just saw the three, and then one or two others later in the hike. Frances won't forget our experience, however, and we will also seek to keep in mind the truth that unexpected events provide opportunity to remember and affirm the reality we can always anticipate. Namely, the faithfulness of God will aways greet us and lead us by His involved presence in our lives. We will never be surprised regarding that most blessed and perpetual reality...
"God is faithful."
(I Corinthians 1:9).
"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thy holy temple."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."
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