You are welcome to use the writings on these pages or pass them on to others who might find a touch from God in the words. Our purpose is always to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you everything, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring these words to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom its been shared. All rights reserved. Peggy Hoppes
Christian Bible Study Pages
Travel PagesSalisbury Plain
Our Lord is so good, He grants us many blessings. We can see Him in the daily course of events, in our homes, our jobs, our lives. I pray that these words help you to grow in your faith and recognize His hand in even the most mundane circumstances.
The picture to the right is of a Celtic Chapel located in Cornwall England. This building is approximately 1700 years old, and contains a holy well known for its healing powers.
(Click for enlarged)
ďAnd to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: ĎHe who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things: I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you wonít watch, I will come as a thief, and you wonít know what hour I will come upon you. Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.Ē Revelation 3:1-6, WEB
The road I drove to the top of Mt. Evans does not lead anywhere except to the top of the mountain. That is how it is like a labyrinth: you follow the path in and then out again, without the kind of choices we usually have in life. I was as amazed by the lack of anything to see but mountains from every scenic stop. There were no lovely little farms or ranches in the valleys, not quaint cabins along the lakes. The landscape was covered with trees to the treeline and then tundra flora at the higher elevations. There was life; I saw a herd of mountain sheep and heard marmots on a hillside. And, of course, there were cars and people along the road.
There is a reason why people donít live in those valleys or by those mountain lakes: the landscape is intolerable for human habitation for most of the year. The road I drove is only open from the end of May to the beginning of October. The top five miles is closed much earlier in the year. It can snow in July in those upper elevations, although the deeper snow doesnít fall until wintertime. The annual precipitation can be anywhere from twenty to fifty inches, which can equal close to twenty to fifty feet in snow. The roads at the highest altitudes are impassible for most of the year. There are no ranches because people simply canít live for most of the year in total isolation buried under so much snow.
Yet life exists in this seemingly unlivable place. The trees and other plants survive the bitter temperatures and extreme precipitation. Even the animals manage to live in those places where humans cannot. Now, there are a few hearty souls who manage to hike those high peaks, even in the deepest winter, although the smart hikers research the options and choose the safest. The most experienced hikers can run into deadly trouble on those paths in the middle of winter.
The climb to the top of Mt. Evans made me think about life, perhaps as much because of the seemingly lack of life I saw. And yet, I spent hours photographing the abundant wildflowers that colored my path even above the treeline. The mountain lake at 12,000 feet was surrounded by lush, green grasses. The herd of mountain goats, including the incredibly adorable baby, proves that there is life on those hillsides. The sound of the marmots was like music in the air even though I could never see the animals who were singing. I imagine the lakes were full of fish and that the forests were full of elk, moose, all sorts of bears, deer and wildcats. Smaller animals and birds also live there.
We might think there is no life in a place that seems lifeless, but we are reminded that life can be found in the most seemingly desolate places. I have heard, much too often, that a church is Ďdeadí and that there is no life found within. What does that mean? What is life? Those who say this are looking for something specific, like ranches and farms in the valleys and cabins by the lakes, but they forget that there is flora and fauna that were created by God and that survive well in those places, we just have to look to see it. And when we do, rejoice in what God has been doing in that place.
See, God is at work in the hearts of Christians even in the most lifeless places and He will bring life in due season. Perhaps those places that seem lifeless just need the warmth of summer to melt the ice, to bring forth beauty of the wildflowers and the new birth that comes with spring. Instead of rejecting those places that seem lifeless, perhaps we need to be like those winter hikers, willing to go into the desolate places at the worst of times to take the love and light of Christ that will melt the hardest hearts. I doubt that Iíll ever climb to the top of a 14er (what they call the 14,000 foot peaks) in the middle of winter, but I can look for life wherever I happen to be, to see the possibilities in Godís creation and trust that He will bring life out of the cold winter.
The bible warns that there will be dead churches, but there is also hope. There is life in those lifeless places because the Spirit of God dwells there in the Word and in the hearts of those who do believe. It is up to us to shine the light of Christ, to reveal Godís grace and to those whose hearts are frozen. God can melt the hardest heart and bring life to the most barren places. He can transform the bleakest winters into the most beautiful springtimes.
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ďTrust in Yahweh with all your heart, and donít lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight..Ē Proverbs 3:5-6, WEB
I regularly attend a retreat at a center that has a labyrinth. A labyrinth is used as a tool for prayer and meditation; it was originally created to act as a way for people to take pilgrimages who were unable to travel long distances. Labyrinths present the pilgrims with many of the same problems as a lengthy pilgrimage.
A labyrinth may appear to be a maze, but there is a significant difference between the two. A maze is designed to cause confusion, offering choices that lead to mistaken paths and dead ends. Most mazes have a trick, such as one we visited that could easily be solved if you always took the choice to the right. Of course, that takes away some of the fun of a maze, which is getting lost in the journey. Sometimes the dead ends have something worth seeing. You go to a maze to have fun, and if you take young children, you are bound to have hours worth of fun.
A labyrinth, however, has only one path. You follow it to the center and then come back by the same path on the way out. During the ďjourney,Ē if you are walking it with others, you pass fellow travelers along the way. Sometimes you come to someone walking more slowly. Sometimes others are walking faster and you have to let them pass. Sometimes the others are already on their way back to the beginning. Just like a real journey, these encounters teach us lessons and remind us that we arenít lonely pilgrims. It isnít always an easy path; sometimes weíll get frustrated and tired. But weíll also be uplifted and have moments of joy.
The labyrinth at the retreat center is built into the natural landscape with trees growing in the way and rocks along the path. Iíve tripped and had to bend to get past a crooked old oak tree. Iíve been annoyed by buzzy insects and watched lizards dart across the path. The time in a labyrinth helps us to pray and to listen for Godís voice in our lives, to consider how the obstacles are similar to the obstacles that we face during our real life journey of life.
I went on a sort of pilgrimage during my vacation last week. Since I was in Denver, Colorado, I knew that I needed to take a trip into the mountains. I planned to visit a small mountain town, to walk Main Street and visit the shops. I was going to have a nice leisurely lunch, do a little people watching and perhaps find a museum or two. I discovered during my research that there was a mountaintop to visit.
Mt. Evans is a mountain that stands over 14,000 feet and is accessible by the highest paved road in North America. The road rises 4000 feet in just 14 miles and travels around lots of twists and turns. The final few miles were hairpin turns with roads barely wide enough for two cars. The cars on the outside were inches from careening down a cliff and the ones on the inside risked scraping the side of their car on the tall mountain walls.
It was an amazing choice. I didnít have the time to shop or eat in town, but the hours of climbing and photography was so worthwhile. It was too crowded, but it was still fun. The key is remembering that we are all on the same journey, facing the same obstacles and ending in the same place even if we do so in different ways. Some will be patient, while others will be less patient, anxious toget to the top and back down so they can go on to the next adventure. Some, like me, will stop at every opportunity to take pictures and bask in the majesty of Godís creation. Some will make connections; I asked others to take my photo and had conversations about what we were seeing. A young family pointed out a herd of mountain sheep at one lonely spot and we all complained about the long line at the restrooms and the cold wind that blew.
The trip can take as little as an hour, but it took me five hours. I suppose some of the time was taken because of the heavy traffic. It was difficult to find parking places and it was slow getting past the bicyclists and hikers that were sharing the road. For me, however, the time was spent staring at the mountain peaks that seem to go on forever and searching the tundra for wildflowers. I must have spent twenty minutes watching the mountain sheep graze just a few feet from me. At another spot, I spent time searching the hillside for marmots that I could hear but not see. I stopped to make a snowball and listen to the water running down the hill from a melting snow field.
The difference between the road up the mountain and the Texas roads I traveled along the way is striking. Texas is big and flat, and the roads are straight. You can drive fourteen miles in a matter of minutes rather than miles. This is good when you want to get to where you want to go, but sometimes the joy is found in the journey rather than the destination.
We are certainly comforted by the words of the Solomon in todayís Proverb. We want to trust God and His Word so that our paths will be made straight. It is easier and faster to travel on those Texas roads, but the climb to the top of the mountain offered so many wonderful opportunities. Just as a labyrinth provides us a chance to God promises to make our paths straight when we trust in Him, but lets not forget the blessings we will receive when we take our time on the journey, making connections with His people and creation. You never know what lessons you might learn along the way as we face frustration and exhaustion but also the moments of joy that lift us to new heights.
The following links provide some specially chosen scripture that tell the stories of the Birth and Passion of our Lord as Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as a fictional perspective of the Crucifixion. Spend time in God's Word, read about His life and learn of the wonderful gifts He has for you. Know Jesus Christ and honour Him today. Thanks be to God.
Scripture on this page taken from the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain. Some scripture on this site taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
As you may be aware, I also write a weekly devotional on Wednesday called "MIDWEEK OASIS." For those of you who are familiar with lectionary scripture sources, MIDWEEK OASIS is based on the texts used by millions of Christians each Sunday. The lectionary consists of four texts: an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a passage from one of the Epistles and a Gospel text. We are now using the lectionary for our A WORD FOR TODAY texts. This devotional is posted on Wednesday, at both A WORD FOR TODAY and at MIDWEEK OASIS.
You are welcome to use these words to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you these gifts, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring them to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom you've shared it. Peggy Hoppes