Bob Barr had returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam healthy in body, but he was wounded emotionally and spiritually. Although he was a follower of Christ, he felt estranged from his Creator and confused about what God was doing in his life— indeed, what God was doing in and with the world. He was angry and frustrated with God.
Hoping to at least get relief from dwelling on this inner turmoil, he joined a group of friends on a backpacking trip into the mountains of Colorado. While the excitement and toil of the trek distracted him temporarily from his spiritual struggle, the restlessness in his soul kept breaking through into his consciousness—compelling him one evening to go off alone into the alpine tundra that surrounded their campsite high above the tree line. Bob tells the story:
I remember walking away from the camp one evening and looking across a narrow valley. We were at 11,500 feet, camped at the foot of a sheer rock face that went up to 13,800 feet. The sun was beginning to set—filling the sky and landscape with spectacular colors—and I was struck by God’s power and the majesty of the world that He had created. Then my eyes were drawn down to my feet where tuffets of tundra grass were crowned with little flowers. On the side of one tuft was a little opening, and a small bird was nesting there— surrounded by beautiful white and blue wildflowers. As I bent down to look closer, the bird flew away leaving behind tiny eggs the size of jellybeans. At once I was overwhelmed with God’s presence, thinking about His power and authority and majesty as the Creator of these mountains. He had created this vast vista, but He also cared to create beautiful little flowers and these tiny birds to live in this harsh environment. They were nesting there very comfortably—God caring for the small things in the midst of this awesome bigness. His presence then was so real to me that I still get emotional thinking about it more than 30 years later. I felt His presence so strongly that I couldn’t stand up. I was forced to my knees. And if you can hear an audible voice of God, I heard that voice, and His words to me were, “Bob, I am with you. And everything is okay.”
In the quiet wonder of a mountain wilderness, Bob discovered the presence of One who long ago had said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). A sojourn in the wilderness produced, once again, the profound spiritual healing that so many followers of Christ have experienced over the centuries.