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Reflections on Jim Hohnberger’s Escape to God

 

A tranquil lake of sapphire blue surrounds an evergreen mountain tops. Fluffy white clouds drift by lazily on a cerulean sky above. A fresh, flower-scented breeze kisses your cheeks. Warm sunlight embraces you from head to toe. Birds chirp nearby, as squirrels scurry in search of food.

Contrast this idyllic scene with a scene most of us living in the 21st century face every day: drab, gray buildings towered over by more gray skyscrapers.  Traffic jams on the Interstate. Cars honking at each other while releasing toxic fumes from their exhaust pipes. Thick smog limits clear view of the sky above. Intense UV rays bombard your skin through the hole in the ozone. Loud clanking of construction machinery deafens, as people hurry off to work or wherever their busy schedules direct them.

The first scene is what God created for us human beings; the second, what we created for ourselves. In his book Escape to God, Jim Hohnberger relates his personal story of how he escaped from the stress-soaked, God-devoid life as a successful insurance agent to the self-denying, God-filled life as a resident of a wilderness home. He escaped to God and found far more blessings and fulfillment than he ever expected; discovering along the way that “everything in life is safe when we commit it to Him, and nothing is really safe if we don’t” (p. 9).

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the beauty of Nature, so I was naturally drawn to his story of living in the wilderness by the Glacier National Park. It sure did not sound easy (no telephone service, dependence on a generator and a bunch of batteries for electrical power, splitting logs for fuel, drawing water from the creek, etc.), but it sure sounded exciting!

What an adventure—to completely trust and depend on God! We have come to depend on so many things in this modern life: smartphones, cars, computers, washing machines, etc. We feel crippled when we lose electricity after a storm or get disconnected from the Internet. We rely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to update us on the lives of our friends and family, instead of actually sitting down face to face and having a meaningful conversation.

Hohnberger’s book highlights is the need to simplify our lives so that we can rely on God, rather than on things. Even back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau famously emphasized, “Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!” Our lives in the 21st century have gotten even more complicated and cluttered. I look around and see that in my mere thirty-one years of life I have accumulated so many things—many of them unnecessary if you really think about it. Material possessions can cause clutter in our lives, obscuring our view of God at times. It is not wrong to have possessions, but it is wrong to have them replace or reduce God in our lives. Hohnberger points out, “God does not want our things, but if those things have usurped the throne of our hearts, they must be dethroned” (p. 8). And when we get rid of those things, we learn that it was for our gain, not our loss. Hohnberger goes on to say, “We would eliminate from our lives those things that were good, and beyond that, even those things that were better, so that we could possess that which was best!” (p. 34). I want to possess those which are best, don’t you?

In simplifying our lives, we surrender ourselves to God, who is the Best. When reading the book, I was most impressed by how Hohnberger learned to listen to God’s voice, fully surrendering his selfish inclinations to God’s promptings. He relates his inner struggle of how his carnal self wants to do one thing while God tells him to do another. When he listens to God’s promptings, he encounters unexpected blessings. When he does not, he experiences regret. God gave us the freedom to choose but hopes that we will choose Him. Hohnberger points out, “Escaping to God is simply returning all our choices to Him continually, until habit becomes character and we are fully His!” (p. 67). Furthermore, “the key is not that we are perfect but that we are perfectly surrendered to God in all that we know He is calling us to do” (p. 53). Am I fully surrendered to God? Do I let him direct my steps? Or do I reason Him away, giving excuses and justifications as to why it needs to be done the way I think it needs to be done? Am I tuning my mind’s ears to what He has to say to me or am I tuning Him out? Hohnberger points out, “It is when we willingly choose to give up the right to manage self that we are truly God’s” (p. 134). I choose to give up the right to manage myself since God knows far better than I do and can do a much better job!

As I face another day, another month, I consciously choose to let God be God in my life. “Above the chaos of the world, beyond the clamor of emotions, greater than our intellectual knowledge, is the quiet presence of God awaiting only our recognition and cooperation that He may guide, comfort and direct us. This is the key to a life without regrets” (p. 105). So I look up from the chaos and clamor of the world around me and escape to God. What a wonderful and serene place it is! 

Dr. Wonha (Iris) Kim is a pediatrician in Baltimore, MD. She recently completed her pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is currently doing a fellowship in General Preventive Medicine along with MPH studies at Johns Hopkins. Her lifelong goal is to become a medical missionary--to walk in the footsteps of the Great Physician.


Comments

Hi Iris!  God is good that He has led me to google Escape to God and come to THIS page and to read your thoughts on this wonderful book.  I didnt even look at the picture of you and was reading the short bio of you and immediately knew that it was you!!  Its good to see a familiar face in such a manner.  God surely knows the RIGHT time for everything. God is good, ALL the time, and ALL the time, God is good! More Prayer, More Power! Remember KAYAMM?!  wink

Have a wonderful 2017, Iris
Matthew Choi

Matthew Choi (#1) – January 25, 2017

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