Some days I just need to get out of the house. Especially since I’m used to country life and twenty-acre parcels and horses to ride and goats to hug. Not that I dislike where I live here in Dillon — in fact, it’s one of my favorite places to be. It’s home. But…living in the basement of two-level house in Dillon, Montana, surrounded by dirt, concrete, and cars can make me pretty claustrophobic.
Last Saturday I was desperate to get out of town and be “on top of the world” for a little bit. My friend Valerie agreed to hike up to the W with me, the W being the white letter on the hill overlooking Dillon and representing the local University of Montana “Western.” While the trail is fairly steep and whoever happens to talk on the uphill part ends up panting, the hike itself isn’t too challenging and provides a quick excursion only five minutes out of town.
And it was exactly what I needed. More so than I had expected.
The W itself isn’t necessarily the prettiest location in Dillon. It’s barren and windswept, scattered with sparse grasses and numerous rocks that hikers are likely to trip over. But if the wind or the ascent doesn’t take their breath away, the view from the top might. As Valerie and I reached the top of the hill, we surveyed the fall splendor spread out across the Beaverhead Valley below us. The orange blaze of the trees criss-crossed valley. Pivot crops sewed scrap-piece quilt patterns. The mountains forebode of the coming winter with their caps of fresh snow.
No basements. No ground-level views. No concrete walls, except way in the distance. No laptops. No schoolbooks. Just God’s creation.
I would have been satisfied with that, with my one-hour breath of fresh air and escape. But that wasn’t all God had in mind for me.
As Valerie and I hiked up the hill, we talked about life issues in one of those one-on-one conversations we never would have had in a group discussion. We shared our frustrations and struggles, our thoughts and concerns. More walls disappeared– not concrete ones this time, but walls I’ve built up to keep certain struggles private, walls to protect thoughts that I’d only discuss with a few people.
For me at least, our conversation was as refreshing as — if not more than — standing on top of the world.
All I had wanted to do was go on a hike, but God had other plans in mind. He took me on a path I wasn’t expecting and more or less forced me into a conversation I wouldn’t have initiated myself. He always knows what I need, far better than I do.
How about you? Have you ever had an experience when you thought you were doing something totally ordinary, but God used it for something your weren’t expecting?
What has God shown you on a recent hike?
Has God put you in a situation where you had to participate in a wall-wrecking conversation you normally would have avoided?