High Places and the words that made such a difference

I am working on a couple of writing projects. Every time I start a big project, I go through the angst of wondering if I can do it. Staring at a blank page can be intimidating, especially when you know you have at least two hundred and fifty more of them in front of you. But I keep hearing words I received years ago--words I believe came from the Lord. I originally wrote this piece as a segment in a travel memoir called "Dream Summer," which you can search for on my blog. I’m dropping in as our family navigates Yellowstone. This is an excerpt from a piece called “High Places.”

At the lower falls of the Yellowstone, it seemed we perched on a few rocks thrown together along the canyon walls. I peered over a ledge and gasped. It had to be a drop of at least 50,000 feet.

But I forgot my fear as I gazed at the thundering falls-- awesome, powerful, and astoundingly beautiful. An incredible work of God—a high place, indeed.

“Mommy, you’re hurting my hand,” our youngest daughter said. I loosened my grip a bit to give her relief but continued to hold it. My seven-year-old had proven herself untrustworthy by jumping off the walkway at Mammoth Hot springs to inspect a little hole in the ground. Thankfully, her landing spot was solid earth and not molten lava.

On our exodus toward the North Gate of Yellowstone, meadows and wildlife surrounded us, and then we went through a pass in the mountains gliding on to nothing. I didn’t know we’d been in a hanging valley and the road at this point was supported at times not by good solid earth, but suspended over the canyon by I don’t know what. When the road did lie on terra firma, the wheels of our converted van barely made traction along the top of the sheer cliffs. I’d look out the window at the drop and feel my stomach leave me.

We were riding through the air on four wheels—another high place.

But as high places go, nothing could prepare us for the spiritual heights to which God would take us as we headed to a family camp high in the Montana mountains.

It was here, near the timberline, that God confirmed in my heart the long-held dream of writing a book.

“Beverly,” I heard the worship leader say one evening as I was leaving a meeting. He approached me, “I sense God saying that you’re afraid to go after what God is telling you.”

He was right about that.

He went on, “I believe he’s saying, ‘Do it afraid.’ And that he will confirm whatever this is to you.’

I’d just met this man days before and wondered if he was indeed hearing from the Lord.

But, that night in a dream, I saw a book, and the title was, “Ask and it shall be given you.”

As I began to ask that old enemy of self-doubt continued to hound me, but I repeated those words, “Do it afraid,” often through the years.

Just like Peter wanted to put up shelters on the mount of transfiguration, I wanted to stay on this mountain. But, if we want to get to beauty, we must face our fear. So, when we left the camp on Friday, we were making a descent in more than one way. Oswald Chambers says,

“We have all had times on the mount when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities; those are for moments of inspiration. That is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we must prove our mettle”(My Utmost for His Highest).

In the weeks after our return home that summer of 2001, it felt like a valley. The situation with my mother who had been in rehab, spiraled downward as she received a terminal diagnosis days after our return and died six weeks later. We began a yearlong fight against cancer for a dear friend, faced a difficult ministry situation, and of course suffered 911.

I remembered in my pain, and sadness, and grief that God had called my name one Wednesday night on a Montana mountain. I remembered that I’d seen the rare beauty of the wild earth God created. I remembered and prayed that I’d be able to give away the hope God had planted in my heart in the high places and that I would be able to “Do it afraid.”

As a 2024 addendum, I later used the theme “Do it afraid” in my book Home to Currahee. When I see the wall in my office with my book covers now numbering seven, I often remember those words I received on a Montana mountain. If I’d let my self-doubt which had been so huge continue to hold me, those covers would not be on the wall. Those books would never have been written. The people God hopefully touched through those books would not have received words of encouragement they needed. If there is a situation in your life from which you draw back because it seems so daunting, press ahead. God will help you to “Do it afraid.” All the glory goes to Him!

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).


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