This essay was my response to the Unit 3, Day 3 assignment in the study course, “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” I signed up for this men’s group course soon after I began attending the Baxter Road Bible Church in east Anchorage, February 2013. The basic “task” was to take a walk of at least 30 minutes, praying and reflecting on God’s love for me, and my love in return. How did I see God’s love during the walk?
For my walk, I decided to do one of my favorite outdoor recreation locations in Anchorage, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, from the Kincaid Chalet, down the hill. But I would do it a little differently this time. I wouldn’t be concerned too much about my speed as I normally am for the fitness benefit. The trail starts at the chalet and goes downhill at a moderate, steady slope for a little over a half a mile, then winds for nearly another half mile through an open woodsy flats to the coastal bluff overlooking Cook Inlet. The trail then turns north, toward its start in downtown Anchorage about eight miles away. For this walk, I would deliberately spend some time at each of the five overlooks along the trail at the edge of the bluff over that first half-mile or so, just taking some time to observe, reflect and pray.
The assignment asks four basic questions: How did you feel as you walked and talked with God; to what aspect of your love relationship with God did you become aware of; if this was a difficult or emotionally uneasy time, why was that so; and four, what happened that was especially meaningful or joyful?
I felt somewhat relieved at the start that this would be a more relaxing time than my usual walks or cross country skiing, and that I would be more aware of God than I normally am on such outings. It was joyful to be taking more time to actually observe the beauty of God’s natural world. I felt a closeness to God and felt that He liked that I was actively appreciating His handiwork. I felt thankful that God had both created such beauty, and then gifted me with the desire and ability to see and appreciate that beauty. At the same time, it reminded me that God’s created world is only a reflection, just a hint of what God’s own beauty must surely be.
I felt thankful for both God’s natural world seen right here in Anchorage, and for the realization that God has expressed His love for me by giving me the ability to see and understand to some extent this aspect of His own essence. I also was thankful that Anchorage is so blessed with all of our public parks and wildlands right on the edge of the city, and even within it.
This was not an uneasy time in any way. I did get a little winded trekking back up that long hill on my way back to my car parked near the chalet, but that’s normal for me. There was even joy in knowing that at my age, I still have the will and strength to enjoy such things.