There was talk of God and visions and even angels and I thought to myself, well of course that kind of thing goes on here. How much closer we are to the heavens, here in these mountains of east Tennessee, in log cabins with no cell phone service, where the darkness at night is dark enough to see all of the stars. On creaky metal bunk beds in large rooms where 20 people manage to share only 4 shower stalls. This was the kind of place where new routines arose, where you skipped the make-up and bared your thin skin freckle face to the sun — a place where you set aside your own individual schedule in favor of communal meals and long conversation.
And I picked a top bunk because it made me feel twelve years old again, in a good way. And every time I walked out a door there was some new tree, new sky or new beauty to behold. How can you not feel more spiritual, more in touch with the realities of the nonphysical realm in a place like this? Isn’t it strange how inhabiting your own mortal flesh and experiencing its many limitations makes you more aware of the infinity of God? And I knew exactly what those two guys felt on that two hour walk more than two thousand years ago, as the layers of veils across my eyes and mind ruffled in a new wind. Isn’t this the best place we’ve ever been to, and wouldn’t it be awesome if we could build houses of our own right here? Why can’t you just come down from your cloud, Jesus, and pitch a tent beside mine?
But the end of the weekend was on us before I saw it coming, and my high was so high that I didn’t think to be sad about leaving. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that coming down off that mountain and home from that retreat would make me feel like I’d entered a valley and returned to the front of a battle. I didn’t realize it until later that night when I climbed into bed no longer afraid of seeing an angel. That kind of fear had been holy and righteous; now I just felt scared.
Scared that life was too short and sure of the knowledge I would only end up alone. “But God has not given me a spirit of fear,” I remembered and wondered if I should pick up my Bible and read that verse. Where was it, somewhere in Timothy? Can I really trust him when he says he knows what’s best for me – that he has a plan and even eternity will turn out to be safe, filled with peace, and good? I’ll go ahead and admit that I chose an electronic device instead, one with a cool glow in that dark space.
Still, he met me there as I read the friend’s post that was at the very top of my feed…
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.