March 12, 2010

Hiking Stick

With clear, cobalt skies and a warmth that has been long missed, I spent Thursday hiking around a friend’s ranch just north of town. I have been stuck in the gloom of winter for too long. A true child of South Texas, a true child of God – I am made for the sun and for the Son.

I hiked and hiked. I hiked along the river and watched the strong spring rains pushing their way through the recently dry bed of stone. I hiked through a field recently burned, scorched clean that new life might soon emerge. I hiked over green grass attempting to reclaim ground lost in the cold of winter. I hiked through the closeness of cedar breaks and I hiked through the open meadows cleared by the gardener’s plow.

I had great hope for all my hiking. I am desperate to clear my mind and empty my heart.

Along the way, I picked up a cedar remnant – lightweight, but tall enough to serve as a walking stick. I think it was once the trunk of a sapling that was cut down. It became my companion on my journey (though it didn’t say much). My stick had tough, flakey bard and a number of “nubs” – tiny protrusions marking where branches once grew. As I walked – three steps to each swing of the stick, my handhold slowly grew more smooth. The friction and sweat of my palm began to wear the walking stick’s hard edges down.

Of course, that same friction and sweat bruised and tore my palm. I contemplated that for a mile or two.

I find myself in the hand of God these days. I am pained as my hard edges are slowly worn off. My soul is sheared and I am left hurting.

But I am not alone. As much as a father experiences joy in his son’s pleasure so also a father suffers in his son’s trial. I mourn that my hard edges bruise and batter the hand of God as he patiently shapes me. His discipline shapes and forms us at such great cost. Oh how he must love us.

My mind is still too full and my heart still too heavy. What can I do but hike on in the hand of my God?

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