We got up around 5:35 a.m., the sun had already been up for about twenty minutes. We got dressed and ready to go and out the door. We were at Mesa Donuts by a little after six because, if I am going to get my girls out of bed this early there should probably be a treat, and got to Usery Mountain Regional Park, outside Mesa, AZ, by about 6:25. The temperature when we got there was about 78 degrees. It felt pretty good. We got out of the car and started heading up the Wind Cave trail. It was three miles, one and a half there and one and a half back. The sun was on the other side of the mountain, so when we started the hike, we were in the shadow of the mountain. In fact, our whole hike up we stayed in the shadow of the mountain. Now, I didn’t find the desert particularly picturesque, at least not compared to some of the other places we have seen, but it was beautiful in its own way.
I will say that I was a little disappointed when we got to the top and the “cave” was more of an indent in the rock face. The view of the valley was nice and there was a good sense of accomplishment.
I kept looking back on our hike up the mountain, to see how much of the hike back would be in the sun. With each step we took, it kept creeping up the mountain. The good news was we started down and it was still creeping up. We met the sun on the last half mile or so of the trek back to the van, and it was still early, so the heat wasn’t too bad. When we got back to the van it was just before 8 a.m. and the temperature was at 89 degrees - this is why you get out early. I’m writing this at 9:30 and it is 98 degrees outside. Early is definitely better for hiking. On the hike back down the hill, I started thinking about the scripture from Genesis 3:8, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, it says: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” It was the part about the cool of the day that got me thinking. Do I walk with God in the cool of the day?
We find Jesus up early meeting with the Father early in the morning, in the cool of the day. And that was after Jesus had been up late. Mark 1:32-35 says: “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” The people waited till the sun went down and the sabbath ended and then flocked to Jesus to be healed. So, Jesus probably didn’t get much sleep, but saw the need “in the cool of the day” to be with His Father. To be in prayer before the heat started, to be in the “cool of the day” before people showed up looking for him, which they are going to do in the next verse. “In the cool of the day” before His time was no longer His own. “In the cool of the day” before he was going to have to walk places, talk with people, teach people and whatever else the day was going to hold.
You see there is truth that Jesus knew and that we need to know. If we can’t quiet ourselves before the throne of God in the “cool of the day,” before the meetings have to be attended, before conversation have to happen, before interaction ensue, how do we expect to be with Him in those times? He is with us always, yes. He has to be, He is everywhere. But we want to be with Him. If it doesn’t happen in the “cool of the day,” do you really think it is going to happen later. If we don’t set our mind and our hearts on Him before we are pulled here and there, how are we going to do it when we are being torn. Paul say it this way in Colossians: 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Jesus would say it like this in Luke 12:29-31 “do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
So, in the cool of the day, set your hearts and minds to seek first the throne of God. Remember, we don’t go there because it is our right or because we are able to. It was God who came and walked among Adam and Eve. It was Christ who came and walked among us. And, it is the Spirit who has been sent to be with us. The only reason we can approach His throne is because we are invited. God has come. Meet with Him in the cool of the day and know that He will be with you always.
I wanted to write to you all and let you know how grateful I am for the opportunity that you, the district, and the conference have given me to take a renewal leave this June and July. I have wanted to take a renewal leave for a few years now and time wise it just didn’t seem like it was right. As I looked toward this year, I think I decided that there is never going to be a “right time” or at least a time that feels right. There will always be reasons not to go and things that lie ahead that are going to need attention, so I just decided this would be the year I apply.
As I look at where I am though, I see some interesting things. I don’t think before this time I really would have been ready for this time. There are some practical things. We now have a newer van that I trust to make the journey. Michelle has been working and we have some extra income to cover more of the costs. Those are really just practical, the truly interesting things are what has been happening in my Spirit and in my heart. I’m looking for something, longing for something that I’m not for sure I was ready to look for before this year. I am enjoying my time with my heavenly Father over the last few months in a way that I haven’t really done before. There is still a depth of love that I haven’t tasted, but I want to go deeper. There is truth that is life altering, spirit reviving, soul quenching that I know I will only find as I quiet myself in Him. I have eyes I need Him to open, a mind I need Him to renew, a tongue I need Him to clean and a heart of flesh I need Him to give me. Pray this for me and my family these next two months.
I don’t want to come back with a little more energy. This isn’t simply a longer vacation or a well-deserved break. These next two months are a season where my work is taking time to allow Him to transform me, break me, awaken me, wrap His arms around me and so much more. More energy isn’t want I want. What I want is a deeper understanding of His presence, a fuller joy in His strength, a greater hope and faith that leads to love and peace, boldness and surrender. Pray this for me and for my family these next two months.
Church, I want to come to a place where my heart breaks for you more and my life is poured out for you more fully. I want to hear and learn to be wise in shepherding and caring for the flock God has allowed me to be with. I want to be able to share the Fathers heart with you, speak His truth in love to you, call you into a place of death, knowing there we find life. Pray this for me and for my family these next two months. Know that we will be praying for you, that my spirit will be sitting before the Lord with you in my heart.
I don’t know if this is the right time, but it is a good time for this and I am so thankful for the opportunity that you all are giving me and my family. I know that it is a big ask. Pray that we don’t waste this opportunity, that it doesn’t simply become a break, but that I will understand that my work over these next two months is to allow Christ to work in my heart, my life, and my family.
Know how precious you are to me. Know how much joy you bring me. Know that I give thanks to God that He has allowed me the privilege of being in community with you, being His community with you. Pray for me and for my family.
With Much Love,
Rev. Lynn Beach is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, and they have two adorable daughters. He has been at Park Church since July 2013.