This post is by Johnny Hedger, a fellow pilgrim who can’t help but share his journey with the world. Today he’s sharing about new life found on the path—a perfect story for the season of Eastertide! Learn more about Johnny at the bottom of the post.
“Awake, O sleeper,
and rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Today, I hike alone.
I come to a path, free of trees, that wraps itself along one side of the mountain. The smell of damp dirt and dewy air coats my lips and nose. I sense new life. I sit in the green alongside the path, beneath a grey sky, gazing into the grandiose horizon that is dissolving into a blanket of gentle white snow.
My inward journey has reached a fork and I feel the decision before me. I hear the faint voice of Faith calling to me from the hidden end of the road less travelled. She says, “Taste and see that I am good. I will not disappoint, though I will baffle. I am good, but certainly not safe. Come to me.” My spirit thirsts for renewal and is ready to journey. This is the journey of “awakening” and “rising from the dead” into abundant life.
As I wrestle to believe the promises of Faith, the cloud above me drops and covers me wholly. The mist is thick and white. Faith speaks again and says, “Taste and see that I am good. Come to me,” and I feel my spirit awaken. It jumps within me. A resounding “Yes” fills me. The whisper of Jesus orients me, uncovering what I am made for; it dares me to believe that the spark of the divine is alive in me.
I cannot contain the oncoming joy, so I stand to my feet and begin to move. The spiritual realization necessitates a physical expression, so I run back and forth, smiling big, as the cold wind causes tears to leak from my squinted eyes. I experience true baptism. An awakening from the dead and coming into life in abundance.
Baptism is a wild experience. It is a transformative and slightly mystical work. It consumes us and changes the fiber and material of our existence and understanding. It unites us with truth and reality in a way that transcends mere intellectual or emotional comprehension. It is the point where we realize that life and reality are far bigger, more comprehensive and more beautiful than we ever dreamed.
True transformation, at its core, is simply an unveiling and revealing of our identity. Transformation occurs when the prodigal son returns home, afraid and not knowing what awaits, only to receive a warm welcome, blessing, and celebration from his Father. Transformation is that moment when the prodigal, embraced and made whole again by compassion and love, raises his head and confidently declares, “I am my Father’s son.”
An important question that often lies unasked is this: What needs to awaken within us? What needs to come alive? We are given the task of resurrection in all areas of life.
Transformation is taking something of one nature (death) and radically turning it into something different (life). The reality is that countless people live as if they are dreaming, but not the good kind of dream. The kind of dream in which one sees a looming tragedy approaching, and yet finds that his or her limbs are unresponsive, leaving him or her powerless to avert the coming disaster. The kind of dream where one cannot decipher reality from illusion. The danger is that we will choose illusion to the reality of abundant life.
Transformation occurs on the journey to become more full, more complete, more real, more human, more of the image of Christ. The renewal of baptism is a wild and reckless rebirth of the human; a fire begun in the center that transforms and recreates everything it touches. It is not a simple act that we imitate, but it is what happens when the Spirit of truth reveals who we are and allows us to encounter the eternal weight of glory as a vital and transformative reality.
At that point, the Father lowers us down and raises us up, in imitation of the resurrection of Christ, the first fruits, and dawns us with a crown of new creation and transformation. This baptism and renewal is born of the courage to pursue the adventurous beckon of faith, dancing in the winds, coming to us from the end of a mysterious and dangerous path, daring us to, “Taste and see that I am good.”
The cloud moves on, but the mist clings to me tightly. Water wets my face and is cold at this altitude; a mix of tears and atmosphere. I find my heartbeat and breathe in the clean air around me. I open my sealed eyes to find that the passing shroud has unveiled a view I have imagined in storybooks and fairytales.
The pulse of life dances around me, running with an open bucket of paint in her hands. She runs across the hills, through the trees, down in the valleys, into the clouds and touches the sun. My eyes trace her steps and try to keep her pace as the bucket she balances dips and spills onto everything she touches. I turn my feet and retrieve the path that carried me to this spot of hallowed ground.
I follow the old trail back with a new step. The taste of mist still touches my tongue and I lick my lips, savoring the flavor of that which I do not understand. I know that a low flame is in need of stirring back at my cabin. I walk briskly, bathing in the waning light above the clouds before I descend. I am intent to make it home before the coals forfeit their fire.
Johnny Hedger is a native-born Floridian with a low tolerance for the cold a high thirst for abundant life in any of the many forms it can be found. He studied Communication, Film Production, and English Literature at Palm Beach Atlantic University and currently works as a freelance videographer. Johnny quit his office job a year ago and set out to travel, ending up visiting eight countries in two continents over six months. He is a man who loves to travel, has lots of questions, and a taste for adventure. Johnny’s goal is to be a life-long learner. He love people. Like all, he yearn to know others and be known by others. Johnny thinks that community is pretty much the best thing we can seek out because in it we find a glimpse of something outside of and bigger than ourselves; in it, we find what we were created for (relationship). He has found love, worth and purpose in following Jesus and my relationship with him.