November 2, 2019

Bethyl:  Yesterday we left Yahel, south for Timna Park.  I prayed, “Tuck us beneath your pinions, Father, those tender feathers near your heart.  Keep us there all day.  We ask for your wide-spread eagle wings to cover every step, our sight and hearing.”    

We met our 76-year old tour guide, Danny, at 9:00 AM.  Our arrival at the Visitor’s Center parking lot was exact, earning his ‘thumb’s-up’! 

We bounced along in his four-wheel drive, open air jeep to Be’er Ora, 20 km south of the Visitor’s Center, where we’d left our car. Danny said, “Look!  An eagle, up there, soaring in the thermals. In both spring and fall, thousands migrate through to and from Africa and Europe, along the Rift Valley here. 

I was disappointed we couldn’t capture it with my camera.  I waited.  The Voice said, “No need for a picture.  The eagle was My seal for your earlier prayer. I understood, or thought I did.” 

Moments later we were dropped in the middle of nowhere, once again.  Harsh desert, rocky flat, acacia trees and cone hills—mountains a smudge on the horizon.

Water cache under an acacia tree, strewn with messages from other hikers

Danny passed us a few minutes later, returning to his home.  He smiled as he said, “so far, so good.”  He knew what was ahead of us; we didn’t. 

Vance was reciting aloud from Psalm 19: “Madam Day holds classes every morning; Professor Night lectures each evening.”  Vance said, “Let’s take this cut across the desert to our left.”  I waffled; my curriculum in Madame Day’s class still include not trusting my own judgment—maybe we should do what Vance said.  I knew I had seen a marker further along.  But maybe…. Just in time, we arrived at my remembered trail marker. 

markers of His glory in an old quarry

Cool stuff happened in the middle of the day.  We rounded a bend and there was The Tabernacle, a replica of the ancient Tent in the Old Testament.  Happened to be in time for an English tour, an unscheduled 2-hour stop. 

The Tabernacle, minus the 12 tribes arranged around it in the shape of a Cross

I’d forgotten how much blood soaked that place, killings daily, pure animals for impure people.  All pointing to the Sacrifice.

The Altar in the courtyard
Two cherubim over the Ark inside the Holy of Holies

Vance:  Mid-afternoon we resumed our walk to the Visitor’s Center.  Mt. Timna between us and the Center.  Up and over. Simple.  3 hours and we were home free.  My curriculum in Madam Day’s class, different than Bethyl’s, is to not short-cut the long road home.  We got to a junction where we could avoid the hard path in favor of an easier one.  I said, “Bethyl, let’s take the wadi trail, not the mountain top one.”  She disagreed.  Pointed up-trail to the mountain.  Gulp.  “Ok.  Let’s go.  Daylight’s burning.”

Path was up and to the right

Sun’s gone by 5:30 around here this time of year.  It was 2:45.

It was rougher than we thought.  More vertical.  Slippy scree, vertical chimneys, iron pegs to hold onto in the tricky bits, long drops.  “Lean into the mountain; it’s your friend,” coached Vance.

Leaning in on a scary ascent
Path lit from above
But what if I fall?
Made it to the top!

A short walk across the flat mountain top.  We saw this cloud formation that looked like a winged bird watching over us. Of course. He promised!

On Eagle’s wings
Flat top of Timna and the path down

Down the other side, in the shadows now.  Passed two gazelle who watched us curiously. 

Three calls from the gazelles before we looked up!
“You are beautiful,” Bethyl told them, as she moved on–full of joy!

My anxiety climbed as we descended.  I coached Bethyl to plant her feet, breathe deep; plant and breathe. 

Mushroom rock

Outside, I prayed aloud, “Spirit, strengthen us beyond our own abilities.”  I sang praise songs.  Inside, I remembered being stranded in Makhtesh Katon a couple of weeks ago.  Didn’t want another helicopter rescue. 

I was so proud of Bethyl.  She moved.  Boy, did she move.  As twilight fell, her face was grim, determined, sweaty, sticks and legs clicking along over and around boulders the size of small houses.

red, maroon, magenta, green, gold–so many rock colors along the path
More colors… brown, red, pink, violet, yellows. God must love color!

When we almost couldn’t see any further, the trail took a sharp right and up again into rocky crags. No, that can’t be right! But, we followed the markers. We rounded a corner, turning left, and there were the winking lights of Timna Park Visitor’s Center, less than a kilometer away.  We broke into “Thank You, God!” victory cries.  Huge Gratitude.  Tears of relieve and joy.   We’ve taken ground: “You called on Me. I answered you!”