It was a cold night in the shadow of Mount Tweedo in central Colorado. As the embers of the fire gave way to the oncoming darkness, I could feel another kind of darkness advancing. The group of teenagers I helped lead up the mountain were snug in their sleeping bags as I sat at the fire, not ready to face things.
You see during this time of my life I was facing the brutal combination of restlessness, loneliness, and depression. I was several years into youth ministry, but wasn’t sure if I was cut out for the job or if I even wanted to continue. The idyllic facade of working in full-time ministry surrendered itself to the hard and sometimes brutal realities of working in a small town church as a single guy. Not only were things going poorly in ministry, I had just recently concluded a few relationships as well. My friends and family seemed miles away and the girl I was dating broke up with me.
You see, I have a love affair with the mountains. It seems like I am a truer version of myself up in those places. What the Celts called the “thin places” – the instances or circumstances we find ourself in that make God seem closer than usual – is what I often sense as I journey into the solitude of the wilderness. On this trip I hiked with the group of teenagers from back home on a journey of their own – one that pushed them farther physically and mentally farther than most of them have ever been. For me, my journey included carrying the weight of what was going on at home- and the fact that I had to face it again soon.
But as alone and as chaotic as life seemed to be as I headed home, a certain peace settled over the valley in the shadow of Mount Tweedo as the embers of the fire died.
This peace came in the form of a few well chosen words and the time to listen. You see, an older and much wiser man who knew these mountains like he knew life was on this trip with us. His name was Edd and he founded the company that took us backpacking that week. He had hiked most of the mountains in this area and knew them all quite well. But more importantly, he had hiked the mountains of this life and knew exactly what to do with a guy like me.
He sat by the fire with me and listened. He offered few words, but what he offered was what we have been speaking of on the blog all week. Shalom. The peace of God that offers rest without necessarily solving the problem.
This Shalom is the presence that travels with people who walk with their maker. Shalom seems to come along-side folks who will know what God is all about and touches everything it sees.
I unloaded everything on Edd that night. I can think of just a few times in my life that I was able to trust a person enough to really share what was on my heart and know their presence was enough.
Because, in the end that is what Jesus offers. Because he arrived like he said he would, we have peace. He is here. His is in our presence.
And, we take him with us. Just like Edd did around that campfire in the shadow of the mountain.
It made all the difference. And, I will remember it for the rest of my life.
How do you bring shalom into your world? Who has done this for you? As we close our week on peace, share your stories with us.