A Pastor’s Ponderings


By Rev. J. Pete Hyde

Just a mile or two east of the small, (population 200) rural town situated in the vast, open, windy, “big sky” plains of western Oklahoma is the Lochman ranch. It is a modest spread in terms of size, but has feature not found on many of the larger arid wheat farms and cattle ranches of the western high plains. Just east of the farm house, barns and outbuildings is a small butte (a flattop hill) known as “Lochman’s Hill.” It rises abruptly out of the flat plains a hundred feet or so. The flat stony top is probably 50 feet in diameter. From the top (not too bad of a climb) you can see “forever” in all directions – especially on a clear day. The lonely whistle and rumble of one of the 10 or 15 Santa Fe/Burlington Northern freight trains on the main line from Chicago to LA can be heard and felt well before the multi-engine and up to 60 or 70 freight cars could be seen coming over the horizon, passing by the butte, and through the town of Fargo, slowing to 40 or 50 miles per hour.

In the middle of the flat top of Lochman’s Hill, an old, rugged, weathered cross, probably 10 to 15 feet high has been erected. The church I pastored there gathers on Lochman’s Hill for a sunrise service each Easter morning. The sun breaks across a treeless horizon in a dazzling beauty and glory that will rival any beach sunrise. A close and concentrated look to the west and a little north at sunrise from the top of the butte on a clear morning, will reveal what looks like a little, white fence post standing right at the edge of the horizon. As the sun gets higher, the image disappears. I asked Oliver Lochman about the image one Easter Sunday. He said it’s the white, CO-OP, grain elevator from a small town across the Texas border some 25 miles away. When the sun is just right and the sky is just clear enough, there it stands almost like a light house on the horizon – a beacon – shining in the distance for just few short minutes when all the conditions are right.

For some reason, this memory from “Lochman’s Hill” has been floating around in my mind this past week. The vast expanse of God’s creation from “Lochman’s Hill” is a God sighting; as is a sunrise or sunset on the beach, a walk through a forest, or up a mountain trail.  The little, white, fence-post-sized grain elevator reflecting the morning sunlight on the horizon on a perfect morning; the crying, lonely wail of the train whistle in the distance on a dark and lonely night; the dedication and quiet, Christian spirit of Oliver Lochman are all God sightings for me. God has blessed me through them and blesses me again in the memory of them. Stop for moment, close your eyes, and reflect on where you have seen God. Where have you had a “God Sighting?” Let those images and “God-touches” comfort you and give you peace. Open your eyes and resolve today to see and recognize where God touches you today and every day.

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