My three-week vacation was nearly over when it began to nag at me. The vacation had been great: a three-mile run along California’s Highway 395 in a thunderstorm, with my wife who laughed and photographed me from the car; the man in the campground who gave us twenty already cleaned trout; the discovery of a secret hot spring at the edge of a lake; the lava flows in Bend, Oregon; the camping trip with dear friends when we sang “Praise to the Lord the Almighty”; our laughter, love, and well-spread table.

Yessir, at the end of the week I’d be bringing home to southern California a veritable smorgasbord of great experiences, warm memories, and super stories (several of which were of sermon illustration caliber). But was I spiritually ready to resume my ministry? More than that, was I ready to get on a plane, return to Catalina Island, and spend a week speaking and living the Gospel among ninety high school kids at synod camp? The answer to both questions—no, not even close to ready.

Then on impulse I decided to follow through with an idea I had toyed with since reading Mark 1:35. Jesus prepared for ministry with a forty-day “solo” in the wilderness. Maybe a less ambitious trip would help prepare me, I thought. I pulled out a topographical map of the Cascade range and picked a tiny lake several hours in from the trailhead. I packed my backpack, and included a lantern and a Bible. I was on my way.

I had no one to complain to about the steep treacherous trail leading to Melakwa Lake, so I prayed all the way up over several hours. During that time I was both inside and outside of myself. One minute I would ask for God’s help and the next I’d praise him for the fresh blackberries along the trail and the waterfall and the clean air. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.