So I really like hiking. My favorite kind is the easy to moderate that is in the midst beautiful things… while it’s perfect weather, of course! Hiking to me is about taking yourself out of the world and connecting with nature. I just like to be able to look around myself in wonder of God’s creations. I don’t believe I have to workout hard to do that. But… it often happens anyway!
My brother also likes to hike. But he finds enjoyment in all types of hikes – including those in 100 degree weather. All uphill. (Ok, ok, not that bad! But he’s more likely to pick a tough hike than I am!)
I really love having a brother who likes hiking because he finds all the best hikes for me and then we go together. It’s a perfect system! He found a great one recently and wanted to go together. He warned me it was a longer hike (4-5 hours), and it was moderate to difficult. I felt confident I could do it, and he absolutely raved about the beauty of it…so how could I refuse??
Little did I know what was in store for me on that hike.
First mistake I made – I never processed what the hike was. I already pictured what we were doing and somehow didn’t process his description of the hike after the first minute. I missed a lot of the details that may have helped mentally prepare me!
As we went we walked uphill amongst mostly rock. Desert rock. But not the pretty kind really. Just plain ol’ dusty rock. I enjoyed catching up with my brother and being close to him, and I knew the beginning of most hikes aren’t filled with beauty. Plus, I wasn’t too tired yet…so it was fine.
After a long stretch of uphill, I lost a little of my sense of fun. I started feeling tired. It was hot, and I could feel my body overheating. I slowly picked up the details about what our hike was and where it would end. (It was way farther than I thought it would be.) I started to doubt my ability to make it to the top. I also questioned how much fun it would be. I wanted to go back. But I didn’t want to complain or vocalize those thoughts to my brother, so I kept pushing on.
Eventually we made it to a beautiful waterfall and brook. Complete with a small bridge. We stopped for awhile. Put our hands in the cool water. Splashed some on our necks and then sat and enjoyed the beauty of it. I loved everything about that spot. Especially that it offered a short respite from the demanding hike.
After that point, I found out we weren’t even halfway! And the STEEP uphill was after that point. My brother kindly gave a pep talk about how beautiful it was at the top. (Which he’d done 3 times already.) Telling me it’s so worth it… he asked how I was and I just admitted I was a little tired. With a smile of course! 🙂 We kept on.
On a particularly steep portion of rocky terrain, I couldn’t help but think –
“Isn’t there an easier way???”
I nearly stopped in my tracks.
Suddenly this hike had become a life lesson. I connected the dots quickly as to how similar life is to my hike that day.
Life seems like a simple hike – we expect there to be hard times, but sometimes we don’t process what that means. Like I didn’t process how long or hard our hike would be.
Parts of our uphill battle isn’t always pretty. It’s not bad, sometimes it takes the wind out of us though. Just like the steep rocky portions. But suddenly I remembered the good things about the hike. After almost every steep portion there was shade and trees. We saw so many butterflies around us. A span of rock that looked particularly beautiful – like white tiger stripes going across the mountain side. The waterfall that had offered respite, as well as beauty. Wildflowers had been all along our path. There was SO much good we had been through. But I had been too focused on my tired legs and just getting through it all to notice.
“Often we pass beside happiness without seeing it, without looking at it, or even if we have seen and looked at it, without recognizing it.”
I then thought about my brother being with me. He carried the water and snacks. He had been through the hike before. He watched me and paused when I needed it, even if I didn’t ask. He was watchful enough to recognize when I was spent. He encouraged me and told me about all the beauty we’d see in the end. He told me how it’d all be worth it. I completely trusted him. There was even a point where he went out of sight. Just once. But I knew he’d be around the corner waiting for me. I couldn’t see him. He didn’t say anything, but I knew he’d be there. And he was. I never felt alone.
I couldn’t believe how much this hike and become like my relationship with Jesus Christ. He once explained how tough life would be, but assured me of the reward. I barely needed any persuasion. I was raring to go! Life throws curve balls and there are hard times. But Christ walks with us. He’s walked this path before. He gives water when we need it. He encourages us and reminds of the eternal reward and the incredible beauty and unimaginable glory that awaits. We can’t imagine what heaven will be like. But we trust that Christ knows, and we trust He is right. We trust it will all be worth it. He is watchful of our needs. While we doubt and focus on the difficulty of our lives, he calms us and helps us.
I started appreciating the hike more. I saw even more beauty. Groves of aspen, a shallow pool with butterflies all around, breathtaking views, mountain meadows, and even more waterfalls.
How beautiful is the world we’ve been given? How many blessings do we pass by without thought? As we are so preoccupied with our pain or weariness that we are blind to the things Christ has brought in to our lives?
I know Christ lives, and that his atoning sacrifice allows for all the good in our lives.
What blessings have you seen in your life?