God stirred my pot on July 26. Things did not turn out how I had envisioned it. In the last minute we opted for a less strenuous hike and hiked up to Blackhead Mountain at an elevation of 12,500 feet, just a little lower than Pagosa Peak. According to Janna, our tour guide, it would be a less demanding hike and a lot easier to reach the trailhead.
Most of us gathered at Peter and Rebekah’s place on Cloud Cap Avenue, Pagosa Springs, Colorado at six a.m. We packed into three vehicles and took off for the trailhead, about an hour’s drive. Two other hiking parties from Dulce, New Mexico met us at the trailhead. The group picture is missing one of the hikers, her name is Isa. Peter, as pictured by his web designer, bares little semblance to the man in suspenders to the left. He is standing beneath Blackhead Mountain. His gaze is fixed, focused and determined. In his right hand he is holding a shepherd’s staff with the words: IN HIS STEPS. Jesus is looking down from the clouds. These graphics were created by Peter’s web designer at Jesus’ bidding. Although she had never met Peter in person, that’s how she sees him. She had no clue that the picture she chose to edit Peter into, would depict and predict the destination of the hike. Peter and Rebekah have seen Blackhead Mountain from their dining room window for the past thirty-nine years; that’s when they moved into their log cabin home on Lake Pagosa.
Not everything happened as Peter had hoped for or envisioned. Instead of hiking up to Pagosa Peak, a less demanding hike was chosen in the last minute. Also, Peter did not make it to the top, although he and everyone else gave it their best shot. Six of the twenty hikers did reach the peak. One of them blew the shofar while another hiker read this prayer over the valley below:
LORD, grant that Pagosa Springs, Colorado will indeed be a place of refuge and a sanctuary. Put it on the highway of holiness, revealing it only to those that You want to come. Keep it hidden, LORD, from all who mock Your Holy Name and WORD. Keep it hidden from all who do not belong and all that would hinder. It shall be hidden from evil, the snake, the adder, the lion cub and the lioness shall not be able to find it.
LORD, we declare a new day for Pagosa Springs. Bring this community into a broad place where there is no lack of any good thing. With one voice we proclaim that JESUS CHRIST is both LORD and GOD in our county and country. We bend our knees to none other. Amen
In a glass jar on top of the mountain is “Peter’s Pagosa Assignment” which includes the above prayer. Also in the glass jar is a Lion of Judah medallion as shown here. The gist of Peter’s assignment as he perceives it, is to help make Pagosa Springs become a destination for pilgrims who want to become more intimately connected to their Creator/God.
(You may want to click on either medallion to learn about it’s origin)
At this moment Pagosa Peak and all the other peaks surrounding the valley are waiting for others to scale them, proclaim the prayer and blow the shofar. Also, there is a bottle of water from the Sea of Galilee that is still waiting to be poured out and a stone from the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem to be placed on Pagosa Peak. Jesus is waiting for someone to do this. Anyone who loves Jesus, loves Pagosa Springs and is physically fit is invited to do this. Peter is quite ready and willing now to delegate this assignment to someone else. The compulsive need to be that one is history.
At five p.m. we returned tired, but safe and sound at 965 Cloud Cap Avenue. We were detained on our return trip by a large aspen tree that had fallen across the forest service road. The brawns and brains of most of the hikers were needed to muscle the tree to the side. I wished someone had taken a picture. Here are pictures that hikers took with their cell phones cameras.
Blackhead Mountain. See the man on top?
The six who made it to the top
Peter with friend Greg from Arlington, Texas
Isa from Arlington, Texas is bringing up the rear
Son Peter with his Dad and tour guide Janna
Hikers praying for Peter 2 different angles
Peter with his two sons
Peter is flanked by Greg and Malik from Texas
Son Peter & Daughter
((Click Here to get some photos larger)
I want to thank all who joined me on the hike. It was a team effort. Some came from California, Texas and New Mexico to join us. We are all winners although not all made it to the top. None of us will ever be the same. Forever memories are embedded in our lives. I will now try to explain what Jesus showed me as I was hiking up and down the mountain and on subsequent days. I must confess that I have such a goal oriented personality, that much of the beauty and grandeur of the landscape escaped me. I have always been that way. I am not one bit proud of that, but that’s who I am.
The nearly crippling descent down the mountain was my wake-up call. My legs, but especially my knees, screamed with nearly every step when I was not on level ground. Strong arms had to undergird me on both sides; and whenever I needed to sit down and rest, it took strong hands and arms to pull me back up and set me on my feet again. It was very scary, but I have no regrets–zip– none! What I did I had to do. I was compelled. There would be no story apart from this hike. I am the kind of person who learns best the hard way. Many of my stories are the direct result of going through “hard stuff.” I learn by trying and failing and trying again. Jerry Curry, a former commanding general at Ft. Carson, Colorado said this to me, "Peter, I would rather have someone under my command who failed ten times and got up ten times than someone who never failed."
Both going up and down the mountain, everyone cheered for me. At 83, I was the oldest hiker. The youngest were two ten-year-old girls. They acted like Rocky Mountain Sheep. When I sit at our dining room table now and look at Blackhead Mountain, I marvel and thank Jesus for helping me go as far as I did. The mountain keeps speaking to me whenever I look at it. The story keeps unfolding.
I have entered into "a harmony of thoughts and emotions" that are unparalleled to what I have ever experienced. That compulsive need to make it to the top of Blackhead Mountain or Pagosa Peak is history. It is replaced by another compulsive need – to be able to discern and interpret correctly what the Holy Spirit is saying and what may be deceiving spirits trying to waylay me.
God has planted a leveling gyroscope into my heart that will level my little boat as needed. Nevertheless, when Jesus tells me to step out of the boat, I must not hesitate. I seem to be more spontaneous as the years go by. At times He will require me to face the storms or climb a mountain; at other times He will tell me to remain in a safe harbor. My life is full of adventure and never boring.
We have all heard of people “getting pictures.” I am getting “more pictures.” This morning I was shown this cute picture that describes where I am at the moment. I saw myself in a little boat not much bigger than a walnut shell. It was so cute! I now know that it's safer to have Jesus in my little boat than being a passenger on another Titanic without Jesus. That's a yummy picture. But it took pushing my envelope to the extreme before God could expose my unhealthy and even life-threatening driveness. Why I was so compulsive about hiking up to Pagosa Peak is still cloaked in mystery. I would like to believe that God told me to do it, but now I am not so sure. In fact, I will be more careful about saying, thinking or writing, “God told me to do this or that.” Penning these words and sharing my thoughts with you is my great need. Thank you Jesus for keeping my little boat from capsizing so I could pen these words.
Every day since I am back on level ground and have gotten my new "see-legs," I have been processing what happened. As I both write and tell the story of the hike to others, I receive more insights, more revelations, more pictures. The greatest gift and surprise as I see it is this, I became aware of my compulsive personality. It has been obvious to everyone who knows me, but I never saw it so clearly. At the moment I am on a much needed vacation from that personality. At the moment there is no mountain anywhere that is luring me to the top.
I have also been shown that this very common personality trait of being driven and compulsive, does not need to be a negative, but unfortunately it is often diagnosed and treated that way by counselors, psychiatrists and the world at large. Both tyrants and saints, dictators and champions have that focused, determined and driven personality. It is the intentions of our heart that determines if that driveness is constructive or destructive, positive or self-serving. When it is under God’s control and his Word, it is definitely constructive. Jesus was most certainly focused. When driveness puffs up the ego, is dictatorial and self-serving, we must challenge and question it’s origin.
From today forward, I will do all I can to help X-OUT the “D”, the negative interpretation from OCD. It must not automatically be diagnosed and treated as a disorder. The person who developed the polio vaccine certainly did not have that disorder. I bet Jonas Salk was obsessively compulsive about finding a cure for polio. He did not patent the vaccine. He said that it belongs to everyone. He was not self-serving.
What about the thrill of competing in an individual or team sport, participating in a marathon or matching our wits playing chess or any other game challenging our mental faculties? What about the dance floor, skating rink, bowling alley or golf course that is like a magnet for some? What about that pull to go to Africa on a mission trip? What about that artist who would rather paint than eat or sleep? There is so much we feel compelled to do, write, say or sing, yet we are not always sure what or who drives us to do it.
I, Peter, am compelled to find an audience for my heart lest I whither up and die. I, Peter, am compelled to be an advocate for those who have no advocate. I, Peter, am compelled to validate the unique high calling of God in my fellow-man regardless of how crazy it might look to others. Yes, I Peter, am compelled to keep on climbing.
Psychologists, priests, philosophers, scientists have their work cut out for them. They are looking for answers and so am I. Why are we so compelled, so highly motivated to do what we do? At times it may be those hormones acting up inside of us, but that is a very shortsighted and incomplete explanation. I believe all of us would like to learn how to better express the LIFE and gifts that are in us and flow through us – sometimes so recklessly and at other times in an orderly and predictable manner. There is so much LIFE and there are so many talents that go to waste because they have no clear direction or explanation. They may simply be lacking an audience or are never encouraged to come forth. How often and easily do we go around a mountain instead of climbing it? LIFE is too valuable to be wasted. Every day is to be viewed and treated as a gift and a challenge from God. Life is to be lot more than an 8 to 5 existence.
Lord Jesus, please give us those “see-legs” so that we know where You are going and we can follow in Your Footprints. Jesus is my “Forever Mountain” and my “Forever Destination". I must keep on climbing. I shall keep on climbing. Now that I have see-legs, I can climb the right mountain.