Over the years, I’ve found that I’m prone to contemplate, and I’ve also learned that some people are not naturally introspectively oriented. Usually, major experiences (death of a loved one, major transition, etc.) may lead us to soul search – but I do think that quiet, introspection, and contemplation on who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing, is a very important part of our spiritual health. Sometimes it comes more naturally than other times, but it is a discipline as well as something I enjoy doing. Just because I enjoy doing it doesn’t mean that I’m always in the mood to do it. It takes intentionality.

Yesterday, I decided to head out and go for a hike. Some people don’t enjoy hiking – I love it though. It gives me a chance to be in nature, get some exercise, and think about life. I was thinking about hiking something moderate so I could take my time at it as I took breaks to pray, so I picked the trail loop system at Taylor’s Falls, MN. It’s about 4 miles. Before I started, I decided to journal some of the questions that I process when I hike alone.

The process that I set my mind to is what we see in the Bible as Siyach: to put forth, mediate, muse, commune, speak, complain, ponder, sing. We see it in Psalm 55:17; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148; Psalm 145:5; etc. (see definition for more references). This action is an intentional thing that we can do anywhere if we learn the discipline. Below is some of my process:

Drive there

On the drive there, I decided not to listen to music. (Every once in a while a song came to my mind, though) An old song called “Hard to Get” (by Rich Mullins) got stuck in my head. I just let certain lyrics come into my head and stay there as I pondered them. As I drove, I thought about the metaphor of travel:

  • Where are you coming from and where are you going?
  • Who is in front of  you, and who is behind you? (discipleship)


As I got out of my car and put on my sunscreen, I realized that bug spray is more important. Yes, bug spray is to Minnesota what sunscreen is to Arizona. So, getting a few good sprays, I packed water, my journal (with cover by Koch Leather), and camera. I started out listening to music, but a couple miles out I turned off the music – to just listen and be quiet. (Joshua Becker wrote a good article on exercising without noise) As I set out, these questions came to mind:
  • What are you giving your energy to in life?
  • What is the terrain of your life like right now? (i.e. steep climb, flat terrain in trees, rocky, etc.)
  • Overlook: Can you see the big picture? What are some things that are ‘out there’ that you cannot see, but know are there? (Pray for perspective)
  • Steep climbs: Where do you feel like giving up right now? (Pray for perseverance)

Drive back

  • What are the “front lines” that God has called you to (what are you returning to)?
  • What is the memory (or Word that you feel the Lord spoke to you) that you will take from this retreat?
After I returned home, I was refreshed and felt that I received some life clarity. I feel that I met with the Lord, and my ‘tank’ was refilled with gratitude for all God has done, is doing, and will do.
How about you? What are some ways that you encounter God in nature? What are some of the questions that you find yourself asking that draws you to a place of retreat?
Enjoy your summer. Worship the King. Drink water and wear your sunscreen and insect repellant!