Hiking through the woods has always been one of my favorite pastimes. I come by it naturally as both of my parents are nature lovers and I spent many a Saturday exploring the trails around Arkansas as a kid. Normally any time I’m asked to go for a hike my immediate reaction is a quick and cheerful “yes!” but when my husband said he wanted to take me to Whitaker Point for New Year’s Day I wasn’t as excited as I should have been.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed.
The thing is, I’ve been wanting to hike Whitaker point for close to 20 years now. I’ve seen the pictures of Hawk’s Bill Crag… that huge jutting rock towering above the lush green Ozark Mountains. I’ve been wanting to experience if for myself for so long! Last month I made my husband promise to take me in 2020 when the weather warmed up, but he decided not to wait. As soon as he found out it was something I had always wanted to do he took the first opportunity to make it happen (cause he’s a sweet and thoughtful guy). The one thing he didn’t take into consideration was how cold and barren the woods would be in January. I decided to make the best of it and was determined to enjoy our hike through the leafless trees on a very chilly day.
Even though the parking lot was packed, the woods were quiet. Much quieter than normal. The sounds of squirrels scampering, birds singing, and leaves dancing were absent. The only thing you could hear was the crunch of leaves under foot. I hadn’t realized how much I needed the quiet after the previous few weeks filled with family gatherings, crowded stores, and way more socializing than my introverted heart is used to. With every step, every crunch of the leaves I could feel myself relaxing.
And then we reached the crag. The wind was biting cold and the sky was overcast and the trees were stark naked and it was… beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking. I got the privilege of having that crag all to myself for a few minutes and all I could think about was God telling Moses “there is a place near Me where you are to stand upon a rock, and when My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by” (Exodus 33:21-22).
On that cold January afternoon I was reminded that the glory of the Lord lives in the ordinary not just the lush. He’s as present in the winter as He is when Spring bursts forth with life. For me, it’s so much easier to notice Him in the full seasons. When things are normal, boring, lifeless, and dare I say… mundane, it’s harder for me to hear His voice. But He’s still talking.
This week as part of our Listening Challenge we are seeking ways to listen to God when the road ahead is “ordinary and straight,” i.e.—boring and mundane. There’s nothing bad going on, but there’s nothing really exciting either. It’s just… routine. Sometimes the ordinary straight road can be the hardest road to encounter God on. And if that’s true then maybe we have to be more intentional during those seasons to hear His quiet voice.
My winter walk through the woods was exactly what I needed to open my ears (and my heart) up to hear from Him. If hiking isn’t your thing then check out some of the other ways you can listen to Him this week. Or maybe you have a way of your own that works for you (we’d love to have you share it, by the way!).
And if you get a chance to go to Whitaker Point I highly recommend it… even if it’s in the winter.