By Russell Klinner
Executive director, Shocco Springs
Psalm 84:10–12: “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows
favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!”
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take my family with me on my annual trip to Ecuador to work with Hacienda El Refugio, a partner camp for Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center.
Randomly throughout life, God has used “thin places” to open my eyes to His character. By thin places I mean times where I finally get quiet enough to truly listen to Him. During that trip, I was hit with another one of those God moments.
While at El Refugio each year, Shocco’s team has a tradition of hiking their Perimeter Trail which extends around the back of their property. Although the hike is roughly three miles total, the elevation gain to the top, combined with the already high altitude of the camp, causes the trek to be much more arduous and difficult than a typical 3-mile hike here in Alabama.
We started at about 9,000 feet of elevation and over the course of 1.5 miles, gained an additional 1,500 feet of altitude. To put it into perspective, the prominence of Mount Cheaha from bottom to top is 1,444 feet. So basically, we hiked the entire height of Mount Cheaha in 1.5 miles.
This would be my family’s first time to attempt the Perimeter Trail. We started our hike at 5 a.m. so we could be back in time for breakfast at 8 a.m.
As we headed out in the dark with our headlamps, I noticed the trail seemed a lot easier than usual, but I didn’t say much about it. Our whole crew made it to the top in the dark and headed back down in the daylight.
As we approached the lower portion, which is on an old road bed, we stopped to take pictures now that the sun was up. I think it was my son, Will, who said, “Man, this is steep! If I had been able to see this whole path, I probably would have quit.” But with just a headlamp and a few feet of visibility, one step at a time as the light revealed, we all made it.
Boom — it hit me. That’s the story of how God has worked in my life — just enough light to see the next step, over and over again.
He will not withhold
I immediately began to remember Psalm 84, especially verse 11 — no good thing — nothing that is truly good in itself and which is good for us — no good thing will He withhold … nothing really good, nothing that a man really needs, nothing pertaining to this life, nothing necessary to prepare for the life to come.
Watch God work
Through all my life experiences, I’ve always prayed for God to reveal the path He has for me: “Show me the end.”
My prayer has been, “God show me, and I’ll do it.” But after this experience on the Ecuadorian mountain top, it began to sink in that ultimately, what God withholds, I don’t need — including my desire for a long-term vision of the roadmap ahead. And what God lets me go through, I need. I know it sounds simple, but it is impacting my daily walk with God dramatically.
Why had God not shown me the path ahead completely? He knew I did not need to see it. It builds our faith to walk in what He does reveal, one step at a time, without always knowing what’s at the end of the path. All throughout the years of ups and downs in my journey with God and Shocco, coupled with our COVID-19 experience last year, God has continued to provide when I pursue and walk uprightly.
I challenge you to look back at your life history, taking inventory of all the times God used crazy events for your good. Take notice of where God has you now. Then look ahead at where God is taking you.
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