I got engaged a little over a month ago and, in the midst of all the excitement, I found my soul craving a spiritual practice I’d put on the shelf for a while—hiking.
Since Monday is one of my days off, it can be an ideal time to go hiking because the trails are relatively empty. This allows me to engage in the disciplines of silence and solitude in a way I struggle to elsewhere. Sometimes I find myself conversing with God the entire time. At others, I am simply reminded of His love and care for me, as I take in the beauty of nature.
The first hike I went on after getting engaged was to Castle Rock State Park. It’s a hike I don’t do regularly, because I don’t like the winding drive to get there, but I go when I need extended time in nature.
As I began my hike, I was surprised to find my mind turning to other times I’d been on that trail.
The times I had argued with God, as I tried to process a relationship that had gone awry.
The times I had thanked God for the promising beginnings of a new relationship—only to later watch things come to an end.
The times I had yelled at God that I was simply tired of waiting for a relationship and family of my own.
All the times I felt like my prayers were going unanswered, and I could not understand why.
And yet God knew what He was doing.
I’ve been doing a lot of internal work the last few years through Healing Path, diving into the Enneagram, and this past year through therapy. And there’s so much I needed to learn and understand about myself, so much growing and healing I needed to do, in order to thrive in a relationship.
And so I spent that hike praising God for His faithfulness.
I don’t know about you, but I often spend a lot of my time in prayer focused on the future.
Will you bring healing to my friend’s mom with cancer?
Thank you for the person who you are prompting to start serving in Kids’ Community, and I just don’t know it yet.
Thank you for the way you are preparing the hearts of those who will come to the St. Nick Event.
“Jesus I Need You” is a song that I often listen to as I am getting ready in the morning, and the bridge says,
Christ before me, Christ behind me
Your loving kindness has never failed me
Christ before me, Christ behind me
God has not just gone before me, preparing the way, but He comes behind me.
He was there in those pleading moments, not giving me what I was begging for because He had something better.
And He is here now as I look back, helping to reframe the brokenness and mistakes so that I can see how I grew and learned from each (mis)step.
Christ before me, Christ behind me.
This past week I hiked Almaden Quicksilver County Park, a place I often go because of its proximity to my house. There are many entrances, but I generally go to one with this tree tunnel at the start of the trail.
Image courtesy of Deborah Woo
As I entered this week, I felt something stir in me. My breathing slowed, my body relaxed, and a smile lit up my face. But more than that, I felt my posture shift internally. Because of how often I hike here, I realized this tree tunnel has become like a worship song—inviting me into the presence of God.
As the busyness of wedding planning picks up, I hope I can protect enough time to hit the trail and meet with the Christ who has gone before me, comes behind me, and will carry me though this journey.
Are there places or objects like this for you? What reminds you of God’s faithfulness or invites you into a posture of prayer?
Deborah Woo has been attending The River since 2014. She is a Bay Area native who grew up attending First Covenant Church Oakland and loves watching The River get integrated into the Evangelical Covenant denomination. With a bachelors in psychology from Azusa Pacific University and Masters in Organizational Leadership from Northeastern University, she essentially loves figuring out what makes people tick and how to bring out the best in them. She joined The River staff team in 2016 and enjoys using her administrative gifts to help our growing community! Deborah's favorite thing about The River is that it's a place where people are honest about the non-linear nature of their faith journeys and the invitation for people from a variety of backgrounds to learn alongside and from one another in pursuit of the heart of Jesus.