The Bare Soul - July 29, 2007
Onward and Upward!

I use this a lot in my daily life ... Onward and Upward! It is such a positive message of hope and encouragement, of not looking back and remembering the bad times with guilt and remorse but daily trudging life's road with a feeling of expectancy. I have been reminded of this saying more than once while up in Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park this past week. I have such great memories of this area for more than 30 years, but along with those grand memories are a few that are not so good.

I had the privilege to visit the bible school I attended 30 years ago this past week. Ravencrest Chalet is situated on a mountain overlooking Lake Estes and the valley below. It is a wondrously beautiful view and location. When I attended bible school in Estes, I was a relatively new Christian who was saved only 6 months earlier in Kansas City. My mentor knew of this school and thought it would be a great place for me to study the word of God. From September 1976 to May 1977, I experienced one of the most enriching and fulfilling times of my young life. Not only did I study the word under some of the great bible teachers of the day such as Major Ian Thomas, Stuart Briscoe, and his brother Bernard Briscoe, but I made lasting friendships and close ties with the school that are still evident today. This was demonstrated this past week by my visit to the bible school and the warm welcome of Director Wayne Weismann and his staff. They showed my family around the grounds and shared what great things Jesus Christ was doing in their midst and all around the world with Torchbearers International.

Leaving the complex and literally running barefoot back to town (the wife drove down the mountain), I reminisced about the wonderful times I had experienced in Estes Park. But then the thoughts flooded in of when I had fallen away from the Lord and I was up in Estes Park several years later estranged from the Lord Jesus, and once again in darkness and unbelief. I quickly reminded myself of Paul's words in the book of Philippians, ... One thing I do brothers, I forget the past and lay hold of the future that God has in store for me. Ah, the forgiveness of God and his promise to not only to forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus but to also forget our sins and to "throw them in the sea of forgetfulness!" What a glorious promise!

The next day as I was running barefoot up the most beautiful Old Fall River Road (see report), I thought once again about the saying "Onward and Upward", for that is truly all I was doing for 9 miles on that dirt and gravel road. Some days, all we can do as believers is to continue to trudge. Oftentimes, however, the journey gets too hard to keep constant motion (e.g. barefoot running up the side of a mountain!). God does not require us to always be making progress up those Fall River Roads in our lives, but He also does not want us to retreat. God allows us to take a "breather" on occasion and admire his beauty and his grace all around us, and then to continue on our journey. The valley below may look verdant and green and enticing to run back to, but God has greater promises for us ahead.

It was truly a joy to reflect on this while on my Old Fall River Run that day. I had the pleasure of chatting with many folks as they slowly drove by me on the way to the top. That is how God is! He will always allow times of refreshment with Him and others along the way. We only have to take the opportunities offered.

My challenge to you (and to me) is that when we encounter these times of opportunity to continue climbing the next obstacle, the next hill, or to get through the next roadblock, is that we will look to the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to do for us far more than we could ever ask or think. And, not to dwell on our past mistakes which will only cripple our thinking and our faith, for certainly He has not only forgiven them but has forgot them by the blood of Jesus. Our God is an awesome God, who is able to take us not only onward but upward in our respective journeys!

Having a Blessed Barefoot Blast!

Barefoot Rick

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