For the last six months I have been preparing for a trip of a lifetime to trek through Nepal’s three infamous mountain passes. While the circumstances of receiving the invitation to travel with a friend is a remarkable story of its own, much of the anticipation for this adventure has been the countless hours spent training, planning, preparing and packing.
On a recent training hike in Girdwood, I was encouraged by a friend to make some time for prayer.
It was so easy in this setting to connect with God in looking at the wonders of the trees, feeling the falling snow and gazing at the majestic mountains. I set out talking to God about things on my heart and in my mind as I praised him for his glorious creation. What an amazing experience!
As time passed, my mind drifted to thinking about the upcoming trip and all the things I still needed to get together. I then became consumed with all the things I still needed to do before leaving. Instead of taking time to listen for God’s plan for me, I spun my mental wheels overwhelmed with major and minor lists and details.
Of course there was nothing I could actually do while out on my hike and then I was filled with unrest and more anxiety. As I tried to regain my focus to pray, I recalled the Bible verse of the day from Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
I was so consumed with coming up with my own plans, that I was distracted from the time just to be with God. How often in life is it so easy to let circumstances and events shape your outlook when God is available and present to be with you and walk you through whatever you are facing.
I missed being in the presence of God with being preoccupied with the concerns I faced. What if, in times of being overwhelmed with life and even planning, we take those concerns to God and let him guide us in how to deal with them instead of trying to shoulder the load ourselves?
Jesus expands on this when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus was addressing the great “burden” (or “yoke” for the farming folk) of focusing on doing good works instead of accepting God’s grace. It is easy in life to be preoccupied with concerns and trying to measure up when God simply wants us to be present with him in relationship and spend time with him.
This experience taught me how important it is to remember to practice being present with God, so that I can understand he will walk with and guide me.
What does it look like for you to practice being present with God? What in your life do you need to surrender to see God more clearly?
Frank Alioto pastors at Roots Family Church and serves as a Chaplain with Central Peninsula Hospital and Central Emergency Services.
• Frank Alioto pastors at Roots Family Church and serves as a Chaplain with Central Peninsula Hospital and Central Emergency Services.