It takes nine hours to get from Dallas, Texas to Big Bend National Park.
There is no easy way to get there. Even if you take a flight to Midland, it’s still a three hour drive. The place is remote, some might even say forsaken. It takes resolve and patience to make the trip.
I remember the first time I arrived at the park. Andrew and I had just started dating. I was going through the dye my hair every shade of red stage. I think I was making my way through the oranges. He said “There it is… there’s Big Bend,” pointing to some hills in the distance. A hour later, as we finally arrived at the park, those hills turned into mountains.
Yes mountains! There are actual mountains in Texas. A tough, rocky fortress rising out of the desert. They’re not majestic like the Rockies. They’re not really even that pretty to look at. Perhaps they were only for practical purposes; to define borders. I don’t know, It does seems as though life wasn’t meant to be sustained out here.
Once you get to Big Bend, go through the little Ranger Station, pay your dues, oh you just wait, you’re not done. What first struck me was the sheer expansiveness of the place. It is over 800,000 acres and the 8th largest National Park in the US. For us to drive from one trailhead to another it often took us over an hour. Y’all, this place is huge. Words cannot express.
Every time that I have been to Big Bend it has been in the fall or winter. What keeps drawing me back to this haven is the blend of mountains, desert and the refreshing Rio Grande winding it’s way through the park. There is a solitude and stillness that permeates the place.
This past week when I visited, in the Spring, my beloved park had been transformed.
Desert plants were ignited with vibrant color. Butterflies were fluttering from bloom to bloom. Wildflowers were bustling on the side of the road. Cacti were covered in color. The mountain side was layered in happy yellow and orange.
To be honest, my brain couldn’t quite handle it.
“But it’s a desert!! It’s remote!! It’s …forsaken.”
There’s that word again. I realized I connected to the barrenness of the desert. To see it alive – more than alive – to see it overflowing and vibrant – my brain had to acknowledge an obvious fact.
Even in the driest, most seemingly remote places, surrounded by impenetrable walls – there is life.
Even when I’m not feeling it, there are wildflowers in bloom. Even when I don’t see it, there are whole microcosms of sustained life.
I’m going to let you in on a lil secret. I read verses like 1 Peter 5:7, “…cast all your anxieties on Him because he cares for you” and it strikes a chord. And not in the warm, fuzzy way.
Some days I’m like, “ya, I get that, He is good, His character is good.” But to be honest, most days I really struggle with this truth. I stare at the Bible, weighed down by my anxieties, then feel guilty by my anxieties, then feel worn out and tired by them, finally at that point, it’s hard for me to believe that He cares for me.
THIS is what I kept thinking when I was staring at that dang desert full of life and color and joy.
In the most lonely, tired, barren, worn out, seemingly forsaken place of your heart – there is life. You can be sustained. Even when you’re not feelin‘ it… the God of this Universe has broken through every wall to care for you.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10