June 6th, 2012
Every year I say, “This was my favorite Summit to date,” and this year was my favorite again, by far! I made some key changes that I think made it extra special. The most strategic change was taking a much smaller group. This meant the Summit was full in December, so if you have been considering attending the Summit in the future, be sure to sign up right away when registration opens this fall. I anticipate it will fill up quickly again.
It was also a great year for reasons beyond my control: we had incredible weather, areas of the park were open that were never open the previous five years, and Glacier Point Road was open for the first time in three years. Even less tangible, the spirit and attitudes of the guys who came made for a very refreshing and renewing trip for me. I think the small group size played into that aspect of the week. Great friendships and life-long relationships have always been formed for each of the guys, but with a small group, we formed them with everyone, rather than separately. That was an extra blessing. Lastly, and ironically, with the weather being so perfect, the Park seemed nearly empty so we had incredible solitude. We even enjoyed having Glacier Point completely to ourselves, a location that is often crowded with people. Granted, we were there for the sunrise, but even as the sun rose, we enjoyed the complete serenity of having it all to ourselves. It was a gift from our Creator. On our hikes, we rarely, if ever, saw other Park visitors.
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We began the Summit with the sunrise at Glacier Point. Words can’t even describe how majestic and fantastic and breathtaking this view of God’s Creation is. It is truly beyond description.
All we can really do when we are there and confronted with God’s Amazing Handiwork…is Worship Him.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
After the sun was up, we were ready to begin our first FULL day of hiking: from Glacier Point, along the Panorama Trail, all the way to the top of Nevada Fall, to Vernal Fall, and down into the Valley. It averaged 125,000 steps per guy with an elevation drop of 3200 feet (not counting the ups and downs along the way). Together we hiked over 750,000 (3/4 million!) steps. Whew! No wonder we were sore back at the cabin later.
We stayed at a VERY nice lodge right in the heart of Yosemite National Park. If you are ever planning a trip to Yosemite, I highly recommend Scenic Wonders. It is located in an area called Yosemite West, right near the turn to Glacier Point Road, ten miles from the Valley, and has great access to the southern area of Yosemite as well. The next best areas are two hours outside the Park (or in the Valley, which are either very expensive or very yucky). Tell them Karl Bastian sent you!
We hadn’t done the Panorama Trail since Summit #1, and it is an incredible trail to do. It is long and hard work, but the views and vistas make it well worth it. The sights and sounds and animals we discovered along the way were simply incredible.
Some of the guys found very creative places to stop for a rest!
There were lots of times just to stop and enjoy the Word, reading and journaling too.
The next days took us on other hikes in Yosemite, including the Northern Tioga Pass area. There we hiked to Dog Lake where each of us sloit up for solitude time. Some of the guys even hiked to the point of Lambert Dome. (below)
Obviously, Yosemite is a beautiful place. But it’s not just the beauty. It’s the peacefulness that is there. It’s the getting away from all the noise of regular everyday life to a place where we can listen to God.
In the calmness found there, away from the noise of ministry and daily life, God is reflected in nature. I hear from the guys every year, “I can’t remember the last time I spent hours just alone with God, listening to Him. It’s so refreshing and so renewing. I just needed this.”
Yosemite is amazingly quiet. As we hiked, all we could hear was the wind, birds, distant water falls…and our thoughts. And into that quiet it’s like God can finally be heard.
Our cell phones didn’t ring. There was no e-mail. No meetings to run off to. No deadlines. We hardly stuck to a schedule. We left when we were ready, and we returned to the lodge when we reached the end of the trail. We cast off pressure. We stopped rushing and worrying about times. I didn’t even wear a watch. The sun was our only constraint – we aimed to be done with the trail before sunset.
Into that calm, God could finally speak. And be heard. We stopped stopping Him…bringing Him our plans and agendas and things we needed Him to approve or bless and staff or resources we needed him to provide, and instead we asked, “What’s on Your mind, Abba Father?”
And He Answered…
I coached the guys on how to listen to God in Yosemite, because it is very different every year for each guy. He spoke through His Word, through events, through their bodies, their spirits, through the things that they saw, experienced, and heard and by bringing back memories. I’d love to share stories of the amazing experiences and “ah ha” moments, of the ways God openned eyes and hearts during these Summits.
But unfortunately, what happened in Yosemite (what was said, what was shared) stays in Yosemite, and with each of the guys. We share a bond of trust and brotherhood that will last for a lifetime.
Yosemite reminded us to take the long view of our lives, to see our present struggles and circumstances in view of eternity. It gave us perspective that we could take back with us. Very often guys go home to trials they never knew were coming and I get the call or e-mail, “If I hadn’t been on Yosemite Summit, I never would have survived what was waiting for me when I got home.” God knew. And He sovereignly prepared them by having them come on this Summit so they could address the things we discussed and that He brought up with them in their private times with Him.
We all need “mountain top” experiences. They prepare us the for valleys that are to come. I am already praying for the men who will join me next year. I know some of them are reading this post. Yes, you…you may be joining me next year. Even you…the who is making excuses in your head…God is prompting you, isn’t He?
When I see the difference this Summit makes in the lives of men in ministry, I am amazed that there isn’t a waiting list every year. But the good news is, I’ve never had to turn anyone away. God has always brought together the right group of men – a Fellowship to hike and pray and live together for a short season and allow God to do a needed work in their lives, both separately and together.
Already, I can’t wait for Yosemite Summit 2013. Lord hasten the day!
THE YOSEMITE SUMMIT 2012 HIGHLIGHT VIDEO:
Alternatively, you can DOWNLOAD THE VIDEO, (22.3MB MP4)