Last October I had this crazy idea, to go on some crazy summer trip, out to crazy Colorado, with my semi-crazy church. It’s called Leadership Training (or LT for laziness sake), and personally I never thought I would be able to go while I was in college, due to my monthly responsibilities with the National Guard. Freshman year I had the same strong desire to spend a summer out in the mountains worshiping, talking to, and seeking God, but I simply feared I’d never be able to convince my military leadership to release me from my (voluntary) shackles for the summer. God has a knack for reminding me that I never know his plan or his power, and by his grace I found myself driving 20 hours in my little blue car out to Colorado on may 20th 2018.
Nerves first hit when I realized I was about to experience manual driving in the mountains for the first time! I have quickly become a master due to my many trips to the Denver airport which involves climbing from 5,000ft up to 11,000ft and back down to 9,000ft. I think I already am taking the views for granted.
And that’s simply the short two hour drive from Denver to the YMCA of the Rockies (Snow Mountain Ranch) where we are working and living this summer. I could brag on and on about how great is it out here, but in reality it’s not all rainbows and snow-capped mountains.
When I was conversing with LT alumni prior to leaving, many of them mentioned A) how freaking awesome it was, but B) how incredibly challenging and tiresome it was. For me it’s not the 40 hour work week, learning to live in a dorm with 4 guys, or even the minor and major conflicts that have surfaced during these few short weeks. It’s been me analyzing my heart on a deeper level than ever before and acknowledging my desperate need for God to overwhelm me with his love.
In these last 4 weeks I have gotten to share my testimony/slice/story/whatever you want to call it, with many people and one thing I keep thinking to myself is gosh Isaiah in what world do you think you are worthy for this summer, for these friends, and for God to meet you in your brokenness? It’s funny that while I am thinking those lies, this summer is overwhelming me, I’m making countless new friends who love me for who I am, and God has not only met me where I am but has wrapped me up and reminded me He is my dad and I am his son.
I’m only going to recap two big impacts on my life so far this summer because if I wrote about every single amazing thing that has happened, you would probably be bored and we wouldn’t want that would we?
So I know this may be a shocker, but so far, most of the LT sessions have not been very impactful for me. I’ve found them a bit fast paced for my liking, and end up learning more when I sit down and recap the passages and message on my own. However, just last Monday our speaker spoke on the fact that God is our warrior. I was super excited for this one being in the military I was thinking let’s go we are going to talk about how powerful, and strong, and mighty God is, and how He will deliver us and fight for us yatta, yatta, yatta. YES!!! All that is so true and important…but most of this message discussed the wonderful idea of waiting…..
I was I bit taken aback by this approach because who really ever likes to be told to wait?? The most challenging message came when we read Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his ways, over the man who carries out evil devices.” Toss out the second part for the sake of this message (however very important to know God protects us from the evil in this world). We are supposed to wait patiently for HIM. For me patience is hard in itself, but it gets worse when I feel a desperate need for God to be near and instead I sense silence. Since that night, I’ve come to enjoy the silence and the peace. Learning to wait patiently and expectantly for my God to come through is hard and exhausting, but applying myself to this waiting is quite satisfying.
Perhaps the “biggest” moments have been summiting 14ers. Pretty self-explanatory, 14ers are mountains that are 14,000ft or higher, and they are a b**** to climb. I tackled my first one probably way too early, but despite not being acclimated to the altitude, it being my first hike out here, and the fact snow still covered about 30% of the trail, my new friend Nate and I climbed it with ease (no it really sucked and we had to take like a billion breaks and I couldn’t breathe).
Nothing I have seen in life has compared to the view I saw atop this mountain (Gray’s peak, because why would Isaiah Gray make any other mountain his first in CO?) And thus began my addiction to hiking these massive monstrous mountains.
So the addiction is not really about the view, or some might be addicted to the adrenaline, or the pain, but for me it’s the symbol I get from hiking these beasts! The christian walk is practically a mirror image of accomplishing a hike like this. We live down in the valleys, in the hard cruel world, and there is no permanent escape from it all. But we look up, and climb towards God to be refreshed, to grow, and to feel his power, but then once again, we have to take that renewed strength back down into the world to do His will. So I continue to climb, I’ve accomplished 3 so far (one was a repeat in an attempt to tackle a more difficult route, however this time the mountain forced me to turn around) and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
But even this couldn’t stop me from summiting and experiencing the beauty atop the mountain. God’s creation is perhaps one of the most intimate ways I am finding myself near to Him this summer. Yeah it’s already a third of the way done, but He is far from finished with my summer, so every chance I get I will climb closer to him as I prepare to go back out into the world for Him. I did finally take it easy and hike a tiny hill at the Y property, which was definitely pretty, but I anticipate the day I feel like my leg is ready to conquer a new 14er. Some people get high on Canibis out here, I’m just getting high in the air.