We just finished our annual trek to find it again. The rock of escape. Melanie and I stumbled upon it three years ago while hiking in Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. We’ve returned there every year since. On the first day of our getaway, we canoe 8 miles down the Brazos, laughing and chatting about all thats transpired across the thousand miles that separate us. We reminiscense about our high school days – funny songs, interesting people, and light hearted stories about our kids.
Its the second day when we hike the trails along the Paluxy river where dinosaurs walked thousands of years ago, that we get into the deep stuff. About an hour into the trail we find the rock of escape. It requires a little leap of faith to get across to it. Once there it offers a cool solace from the the Texas heat with an amazing view.
The overhanging trees slowly sway with the breeze as the sun glints through the branches in small flashes no camera can accurately capture. This massive rock overlooks a deep canyon. Sitting too close to the edge can be scary, but the view is spectacular.
This rock has come to symbolize the entire trip for us. Its a weekend getaway we look forward to all year. We leave our ministry husbands, darling children, and busy routines behind. Here at the rock, our conversations reach beneath the surface.
Year one we shared all our deepest fears for the future. We were both at a stage of beginnings then. My husband and I were involved in planting a new church and Melanie’s pastor husband was on staff at a large church and was helping spearhead a new building endeavor.
The next year the focus fell on me. Things were going pretty well in Mel#1’s world, but I was carrying stress about our baby church’s finances and wondering what the future held for us if things didn’t change. I hadn’t realized how heavily it was weighing on me. Melanie drew it all out and reminded me to trust God – He is the rock of escape. I came home refreshed and encouraged. When I look at all God has done since then, I’m amazed.
This year was Melanie’s turn to unload. Her husband was fired from the church that once thought he’d hung the moon. The betrayal of staff members and friends still stung bitterly. At the rock, Melanie let it all out. Her kids were so confused and even she couldn’t make sense of exactly what went wrong. This year it was my turn to cry with her and remind us of the only Rock in life. Not the cool one we sat on that day, but the only solid foundation worth building your life on.
The older we get, the more we realize that life is complicated. Most of the time no easy answers exist. However, in spite of the uncertainties around us, Jesus remains the only “safe place.” He has never changed. He is faithful even when we are not. Churches can turn on you. Friends you thought would always have your back can abandon you when you need them most. Material possessions can slip through your fingers.
The more you try to hold onto these things, the more you learn that only one rock is truly secure. Our rock in Texas provides a temporary place of refuge from the enemies that chase us – fear, doubt, relational difficulties, and tough circumstances. King David had a rock of escape too. 1 Samuel 23:28 says, “So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.”
David was hiding out in a cave. We hide out for one weekend a year. I wonder what we’ll be talking about next time at the rock of escape. There never seems to be a year completely free of trials so while we’ll have victories and spiritual growth to celebrate, we’ll also have pain to share. Although the journey across the country gives me a great time away with a faithful friend, it also points me back to the true Rock. “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 This real friend has stood by me through so many ups and downs in life. He is always available when I need Him. His name is Jesus.
So now that I’m home with no Texas sun, no hiking trails, or river adventures. Instead I have piles of laundry, papers to sign for my kids, and a very full calendar. But I close my eyes and think of our time on the rock and am ready to take on the day. I find myself humming an old song….On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…