Sunday, November 19, 2017

Our Undiscovered History

As a young pastor, everything was new to me. One part of that newness was the fact that we were pioneering a church in Kalispell, Montana. I had never been to Montana. That has been a repeated theme for each new ministry assignment Jan and I have accepted over the last 37 years. We first said “yes” to the call of God and then went, not knowing anything about the place of our calling. Montana is a stunningly beautiful state from the Rockies in the west to the sagebrush-covered open space of the east. I loved it all.

We started our church in September of 1981 and that Christmas I visited the county jail on Christmas Eve to bring some hope to those locked up behind bars on the holiday. During my visit, I met a mountain man - a real mountain man. His name was George. George was at least ten years older than me. He had been arrested after sticking three thugs with his skinning knife who jumped him outside a bar in Columbia Falls. It was a robbery attempt. He was later exonerated of the charges since it was obviously self-defense.

A few days after Christmas, George was released and I got to lead him to Jesus while sitting in a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Kalispell K-Mart. He became one of my best friends and served as an usher at our church. We hunted and fished together. He taught me how to run an open canoe through the rapids on the North Fork of the Flathead River. When we ran our canoes, George and I wore wool pants, red and black checkered wool shirts, Sorel boots and wide-brimmed hats. We carried Ruger .44’s on our hips. Gliding down the river in our canoes, we looked like we were time-traveling explorers from the 1800’s. 

George lived in a log cabin at the end of a dirt road. His property backed up against government land. You would have to hike for miles across steep mountain terrain just to get to the edge of his property if you were not a property owner whose land backed up to government land as George’s property did.

One day, George took me on a hike up the mountain to show me something. After about 15-minutes we came upon an abandoned cabin. It looked more like a stockade. The logs were square cut and the roof was flat. George said this was a stop on the wagon route into the Flathead Valley used in the mid-1800’s. It was built as a refuge from attacking Indians. There were no windows, just slits to shoot rifles through. It was so well built that it looked as if it could still be used today for its original purpose. After looking around, we walked back down the mountain. 

I recalled the memory of that cabin this week. I loved its history and where my thoughts took me as I tried to imagine a wagon filled with passengers and cargo hurrying up to get inside the cabin while under attack.

As I entertained that memory, the Lord said to me He was about to disclose the location of undiscovered histories and heritages. Some of you will be granted access to undiscovered parts of your family history, your ethnicity and your place in history. This has been preserved for you just like the cabin was preserved on the mountain overlooking George’s place. The discovery of this history will be a missing link needed for you to see the larger work God is doing in your life. A settling effect will come with these discoveries. You will no longer feel disconnected with your history. It will become part of your life and your calling.

I was back in Montana a few years ago and drove down the dirt road leading to George’s cabin. He was gone. We had lost track of each other over the years. I was tempted to drive down the entrance to George’s place and ask permission from the new owners to make the hike up the mountain in an attempt to find the cabin. I realized I was not dressed for a hike of that nature so I  just slowed down and let the memories flood my mind as I continued driving. It was a poignant moment. Unless the new owners had made the hike up the mountain it is very possible they don’t know the old cabin is still there looking down on their homestead. That is the nature of undiscovered history.

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