I went on a hike.
It was my goal to reach the bench,
to climb the hillside path,
to see the sunset.
I talked to God most of the way.
And thought about how I had failed….
Angry words had been expressed, never to be inhaled back in.
Loved hearts hurt.
And I was disappointed
in my decisions
And I whispered confessions
to my patient Lord,
coming out in tired, hiking, breathless words.
And I reached that bench
but felt the urge to keep going
on this snowy, muddy path.
And so I continued upward
and reached another bench
as the sun went behind the mountains to the west.
And I was tired of treading in the mud
but had to keep going
to continue to process with God
the inevitable consequences of my loose tongue and poor choices.
When I reached the third bench
And I saw that the path had ended
with a gate.
And as I pondered the end, I said to God sadly,
“I’m at the end of ME!
I’m so over SELF!
I surrender all to You once again, God.
Please forgive me.”
And I finally sat down
at bench number three.
My eyes took in the majesty,
of the mountains so far away
illumined with evening hues.
Those grand mountains,
unmovable but changing with light leaving.
And I still chose the heaviness of guilt.
And I pleaded, ‘Lord, please speak to me. I want to hear Your voice.’
With comforting tone and loving presence,
I heard in my mind,
“I have whispered your name through generations.”
Words I could not have imagined on my own.
He thought of me?
Way before I was born?
He, God, spoke my name?
I was overcome.
Alone in my regret,
He met me there
with loving words
when I had chosen the opposite, time and again.
I had brought a shadow to His light,
but here on this third bench at the end of the path
He reminded me
that He is love
and He is mercy
and He is grace
and He is Teacher
especially in the aftermath of careless mistakes
and most of all,
unconditional love reigns.
Heading back down
before the sunset turned to darkness
my burden was lighter.
the end of the road,
the voice of faithfulness —
all worth the journey.
Now it was time to seek wronged hearts,
and learn on this journey.
And I was thankful to find
that the same forgiveness I received on that hike
is the same forgiveness
that I was met with
by those offended.
Light begets Light.
– Susie Stewart
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
Psalm 139:1-19 (NLT)
Photos taken by Susie Stewart