A Pastor’s Ponderings: The Long Journey

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By Rev. J. Pete Hyde

I have made many trips heading west from Oklahoma to various places in the Rockies.  Whether heading out on Interstate 40 through the vast open plains to Amarillo and beyond or heading from Woodward, Oklahoma on the lonely, two-lane U.S. 412 down the center of the Oklahoma panhandle for hours and hours finally dumping out in Trinidad, Colorado, much of the countryside is lonely and sometimes seems forsaken.  Open pastures support only few cattle. Wheat field stubble stands windswept in the late summer. Trees along the fence rows lean to the north having been buffeted by the relentless southerly winds only broken by barbed wire fences that are down in places.  Grey, weathered, abandoned farmhouses and crumbled barns dot the scenery as reminders of families and farms that have come and gone in the harsh environment.

One of the things that always stuck in my mind is the constant uphill grade as you head west. The road disappears literally up over the distant horizon as you climb toward the mountains. There are short stretches where the road dips down to a riverbed or canyon. But you are always climbing. It doesn’t let up. At times the car downshifts to make a long climb. You are about to give up when there appears a slight darkness in the distance. Is it clouds on the horizon? Way far off there is something. The road keeps climbing. Painfully slow, the image in the distance gets larger. Soon the uneven line of peaks and valleys begin to take shape. After a long, lonely road, the purple mountain majesty is in view, but yet still many miles away. The foot pushes a little harder on the accelerator. The car downshifts trying to meet the demands of the driver and the ever-increasing altitude. Many hours of journeying through the seemingly endless plains has been rewarded with snow covered peaks, lush green forests, crystal clear streams and rivers. The hot, dusty wind is replaced by cool mountain air. The car A/C is turned off and the windows are opened allowing the fresh air to rush in.

This thing we call the journey of life is spent for the most part in the long days of crossing the seemingly endless plains of living, many times on an ever-increasing uphill battle. Though we may reach many points of wanting to give up, we lift our eyes to the hills and seek the reward of journeying toward the refreshing presence of God. May God be with you on your journey. Hear the words of Psalm 121:  “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day not the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going.”

Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach
Community Church
850-267-2599; srbcc.com