Road Trip ‘20 … Day 3, The Great Sand Dunes

Sand, Sunset, Sleep, Shouting to God.

This was my last day in Colorado. The fourth of the National Parks on my to-see list for this trip. Who knew it would also be a true God moment. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Another hotel and another bed. It was nice, especially knowing that I would be driving through the night at the end of this day. I headed out early to get to what would be a highlight of the adventure – the Great Sand Dunes. This unique phenomenon varies from 6-8 miles long, is almost 800 feet high, lays nestled at the foot of Alpine covered mountains, and is open 24 hours for visitors (unique in the NPS).

One parks their vehicle at a tree line which is like a curtain that one walks through into a magical world. First after the tree line is the river basin that has to be crossed. More of a nuisance to most, mere inches deep most of the time, but spots can go deeper. Some stopped right there and lets their day be like at the beach – sun and snacks in chairs from home.

Then a short walk further through what appears to be river floor just waiting for heavy rain to fill the river with water … heavier rocks that wouldn’t blow way and hard packed soil.

As you get closer, you realize the intensity of the Dunes. What appeared like ants zig zagging the crests were people headed to the top.

To walk straight up would be about a mile trek, but you can’t walk straight up. So it’s a couple of miles step by step in a surface that often wants to eat your leg in its soft sand. Hundreds of people of all ages walk the zig zag. Scores sliding down the Dunes on devices rented or owned.

I wondered if the path most were taking was because it was the smartest or because the first person that day took it and everybody else just followed it like little lemmings.

Around lunch time, I headed back to town (I left a book at the hotel / such a dummy), had more Mexican food, and headed back to the park. I drove around the wilderness section where I saw a family of deer, a coyote that trotted right in front of me before dashing into the brush, and some extraordinary nature.

I slept in the truck a bit, awaiting sunset. I had two goals – to experience the sun setting over the Dunes and observing the stars from what is one of America’s Dark Spots – highlighted for its unique black skies to see further and a more abundant star field. Alas, only the former would be fulfilled tonight. For storm clouds were rolling in and stars would be blocked from view. So I would enjoy the sunset and head out to my most important destination – Dallas to see my son. But first – sunset in the Dunes.

The crowd had lightened to under 50. The sun was slowly going behind the mountains. And the shadows were getting longer.

That’s me!

The wind was picking up. The footprints from the day were already being erased, as if no one has ever set foot there that day. It was in this somber moment that I felt deflated, as if nothing I ever did really mattered, like all I had ever done really was just waiting to be erased like the footprints in the sand.

I was exhausted from the trip – and life. I was feeling lonesome on the Dunes with no one there with me I could call a friend – a feeling many often experience in life. And I felt a little insignificant and overwhelmed as I saw the majesty of the mountains, the immensity off the Dunes, and the darkening of the day – and saw myself as basically, nothing. I cried out to God – literally yelling. “What do you want from me?”

And then I heard it. It was a clear voice, at least to me.

“Be a Nehemiah”

Be the Nehemiah? What? That’s it?

So I thought about it. You see I am starting to dig into the book again, into the life of this leader, visionary, man of prayer. I am starting to explore his burdens, his strategies, his faith. And I never thought I would be challenged like this.

Be the Nehemiah.

Be a leader for my wife, my son and his wife, my flock, and my community.

Be the Nehemiah.

Be a man of prayer – broken by sin, burdened for people, bringing everything before the Lord.

Be the Nehemiah.

Planning and preparing for opportunities – divine and miraculous. Always looking and ready for what God has in store for us.

Be the Nehemiah.

Caring, compassionate, courageous, contagious.

Be the Nehemiah.

An ordinary man used by God to do extraordinary things for His glory.

Be the Nehemiah.

If nothing else comes from this road trip, I have this moment.

Be the Nehemiah.


But more will come – for the next day, I will see my son for the first time in eight months. But that’s tomorrow blog.

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