Birthdays, in my opinion, are wonderful opportunities for reflecting and pondering upon one’s life achievements up to the point of that birthday. On the occasion of my birthday last month, I did just that…I pondered. I sat and thought about what I had accomplished and what I was doing with life that is of benefit to others, my own family being the primary recipients in mind.
One of the ideas for pondering that came forcibly to mind was that of my health. I am grateful for my life and have always thanked the Lord for intervening in both preserving it and warning me when I am in danger of losing it. On the day of my birthday last month, I began a tradition that I have been attempting to maintain each Saturday since – that of climbing some mountain.
Those who are my Facebook friends will have seen some of the photos I have posted of those excursions, each being a bit more strenuous than the last, this last Saturday being no exception. There were moments in my descent from the heights in which the Lord, almost audibly, said to me, “Get on your butt and scoot down the trail before you find yourself flying head over heels.”
Hearing the Voice of the Lord
I will always think of Daymon Smith when I bring up the voice of the Lord. His introduction of the possibility that the voice I hear is simply my own conscious occurs to me on occasions such as this, but to make the matter plain in this case, it was indeed the Lord – my Heavenly Father – warning me with love and yet strong emphasis: “Be careful. I love you. Don’t lose your life.”
In any event, I have been climbing mountains almost every Saturday over the past five weeks. “Why?” you ask? To get closer to the Lord or course. Now I know one does not NEED to climb a mountain to speak with the Lord. Still, there I go, looking for yet another place where I can be high above the earth, alone and away from others nearby who may happen to hear my words.
I found such a spot this last week and intend to return next week or the week after. I asked the Lord if He was pleased with my search. He confirmed. “Speak with confidence, my son,” and I did so. I thought I might share a few thoughts about the idea of calling upon the Lord in mighty prayer. For me, it requires that confidence of being away from others and up on a mountain.
Hiking in the Mountains
It doesn’t have to be that way. For some reason I’ve somehow always been a hiker. As a youth, my longest excursion took me 59 miles into Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Of course I was much younger then but I have similar fond memories of hiking up the Pacific Crest backbone in the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt. Baden Powell – a 3,000 foot climb over 8 miles.
Why do men climb mountains? I don’t know. I only know my purposes: to be alone, to be close to the Lord and to raise my voice in prayer, to “cry mightily” unto to Lord. I loved camp-outs during my Boy Scout years. I would stare for hours at the stars before falling asleep. I was in awe of such grandeur and the idea of such distances the light had travelled to reach my eyes.
I suppose it comes from the image of Moses ascending the mountain to see the Lord. In the Old Testament times, before temples were built, men approached the Lord at the top of mountains. I also think of Enos, who, although he was not on a mountain, sought the Lord in solitude. We know Nephi was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain.
High on a Mountain Top
Wouldn’t that be something – to be carried away by the Lord to a high solitary place to hold a sacred conversation? Again, I’m not saying you need to go climb a mountain to achieve the goal of hearing the voice of the Lord. For me, it brings security, peace, trust and confidence. Joseph Smith sought the grove, sacred to their family, early in the morning, to reach out to his Father.
As I’m sure most of you have, I have heard the voice of the Lord. It is unmistakable. Some call it our conscious, others our inner spirit, or guiding light. I recall conversations with my Heavenly Father when I was a teenager, answering my prayers and directing my actions when asked. At times, the Lord was clear He preferred I NOT participate in the activities of others around me.
I think we might be surprised if we really think and ponder just how much our Heavenly Father really is involved in our lives. Sometimes I have a running conversation that lasts for days as I work on some complex project at work. Other times, His voice has been clear in enticing me to stay away from certain activities. A common thread deals with my need to repent more often.
The Hidden Trail
When I reached what I thought was the end of the road on my hike Saturday, I looked to see if I could continue hiking down and across the canyon in front of me. No way. I asked out loud, “It this the spot?” No voice, but an impression came to look to the right. There was a small trail, most likely used by the local wildlife to get to the top. “Ah, ha.” I began the long, steep ascent.
Halfway to the top I came upon a small clearing, not quite a meadow but no longer ascending. I immediately knew this was the spot. I could come to this place anytime for privacy and to feel that nobody would hear me if I were to raise my voice and cry unto the Lord in mighty prayer. I felt a sense of exhilaration and rejoicing. It seemed I had been looking for this place for years.
The wonderful thing is, it is close to my home – within a fifteen-minute drive – and less than an hour along the trail, giving me plenty of time to think about what I want to say to the Lord. The area is flat enough I could build an altar there if I wanted to, but I feel in my heart that it will be some time before I do so, IF I choose to do so. One reason of course is it is in public wilderness.
Making a Living Can Be Stressful
I’m going to Moab, Utah in a few weeks to associate with some friends, observe the Sabbath and to partake of the Sacrament. At first Carol had agreed to go with me but has a conflict with a writing seminar. I’m not sure how comfortable she would be with wine in place of water we use in the Sacrament. It will be good to get away from all the stress of my work at the airport.
For those who don’t know, my company was bought by a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company. I swore I would never work for a public company again – I despise audits – but am excited at the opportunity to help the owner of the company I have been with for the past eleven years as he starts his new company. I enjoy building new things and making technology work like it should.
I recognize this has been a long, rambling post. I simply wanted to share how grateful I am the Lord hears and answers our prayers even though it can sometimes take years. I have long felt the need for a spot to build an altar, a spot I could hold sacred, a spot I could pray in voz alta. The Lord has answered my many prayers and shown me a place that He would find acceptable.
Cry Mightily Unto the Lord
I believe that may be why we feel some of our prayers are not answered. Perhaps we are too timid in what we offer to the Lord. When speaking out loud, when we “cry mightily,” we are led by the Lord in what would be for our best good. He knows what we need. Somehow, when we put our heart into it as implied by “cry mightily,” our spirits seem to be more in tune with His will.
But then, I have felt the same thing when pondering and meditating ever so quietly. I guess it just depends on what your spirit needs at that particular moment. I only know there are times I felt compelled to pray with great passion – to cry mightily – and have felt restrained even in my own home, and even then concern over what the neighbors may think can easily hold me back.
I encourage you to find your own sacred place where you can cry mightily to the Lord. Perhaps you have concerns that others would think you in need of medical or psychiatric assistance. Another good place that comes to mind is way out in the desert, far from any habitation, a place that perhaps took an hour took to reach. I know some such places down in the St. George area.
The Lord Might Drive Us Into the Desert
I am confident the Lord can and will drive any of us into the desert to some spot He has picked out for us, a place where we can raise our voices in mighty prayer and come to know His will. He is anxious to answer. He will give even inspire us with words or phrases that will help us come into the state of mind or being that allows us to receive answers clearly and confidently.
May God bless each of us to find our own mountain top to commune with our Heavenly Father.