Above the treeline


Kitchen Tune-Up

     Being above the treeline is an amazing experience. I have had the fortunate opportunity to do so many times, and the feeling is always similar. From the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua to Pike’s Peak and Pearl Pass in Colorado and Glacier National Park in Montana, being on a bald mountain top creates an odd perspective of the world around. On some of these excursions I was in a vehicle, while most others I was hiking or hunting. It is a freeing experience to break through wooded areas that obstruct your view into boundless vistas as far as the human eye can see. It leaves little doubt of God’s vastness.


     These extreme elevations have literally taken my breath away, too. Part of the experience, especially while on one particular high-country archery hunt for elk in Colorado, is that the air is much thinner than a Southern, lower terrain guy like me is used to. Physical exertion and mental processing are both impacted. So while the views are spectacular, it is crucial to be aware of one’s scope and limitations in the moment.


     On one hand, the lack of trees and vegetation feels barren. A treeline is defined as the line or altitude above which no trees grow, which is usually between 10,000 and 13,000 feet above sea level. Trees do not grow above the timberline because of decreased oxygen, high winds, low moisture and cold temperatures. What that open ground provides, however, is the perspective to look out and see so far ahead.


     Stepping out above the treeline in our daily lives, figuratively, can afford opportunities to sync up with God about where we are going. So many of us often look to God when we need Him for help, comfort or answers. Foxhole prayers do not make for the best standard of communication. It may be easy to forget that walking with Him can help us to have a strategic plan for our day, week, year, and span of life ahead. As Billy Graham shared, “when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” By moving out of our own way, we can then connect with Him.


     God speaks, and it is our part to hear, absorb, and move forward with the message. To do so requires intentionality and focus. Clarity of vision is essential, just like being above the treeline. By being in a space to listen, we can be most open to what God has in store for us. An excerpt from Psalm 46:10 gives the perfect guidance: “Be still, and know that I am God.”


     We can use approaches that fit each of us best. It can be through quiet devotional time in the mornings. It can be travel or a vacation getaway to remove us from routine and help us focus on connecting with God in order to plan and be directed. It can be as simple as using moments while driving to turn off the radio, ask for His guidance, and try to listen. Our request for guidance requires that we stop the bustle of groceries, piles of paperwork, and paying bills long enough to connect.


     Many of us were recently reminded at Christmastime that Immanuel means “God with us.” This is not just a translation; it is a promise. He promises us that if we will listen, He is with us for everything, including helping us to plan and look ahead. The Word gives us insight about this communication process with God: Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  


     Robert Schuller wisely said, “let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” With our hope resting with God, that clears the way to use His guidance. Be challenged to rise above the clutter to have better vision. The view will not disappoint. 


Columnist Chris Bates’ daughter Anna Catherine sits above the treeline on Cerro Negro in Nicaragua while on a mission trip with her dad in 2016.

Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole, a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at He and his wife, Stacy, celebrate life with their adult children.

Pro-Life Mississippi