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.
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.