A few months ago, my boys and I went on an adventure. We packed backpacks with water, food, and sunscreen, and hopped in the car. We drove about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from home to a place called Enchanted Rock, which is a mammoth dome of pink granite where people can hike, climb and camp. You can learn more about it here:
As we pulled into the driveway and made our way down to the entrance gate, we looked in awe at the giant looming before us. We pulled up to the gate, paid our fee and were given a map of the park and were told that the hike was approximately 1-1/2 hours round trip. That sounded very do-able to me!
We found a parking spot relatively quickly and were pleased that it was right near a shaded path on which to start our journey. This was starting out perfectly! We walked along the trail, diligently following the arrows that were our guide to the top of the mountain. Sometimes there would be more than one way to choose from, and the maps were not always very clear, so in true adventure form, we basically just closed our eyes and pointed (not really, but that’s kind of how it felt anyway).
Much like a maze, the arrows pointed us here and there, around and around, and occasionally to a dead end. We encountered creeks to cross (with slippery rocks that ended up in wet feet), steep grades to endure (with the occasional backslide), beautiful flowers growing out of solid rock, and plenty of cactus plants to jab at our limbs.
After the foretold 1-1/2 hours had passed by, and we had not yet reached the summit, we decided that we had – somewhere along the way – taken a wrong turn. But there was no turning back now and we had to make the best of it and keep moving along the trail. We eventually found out that we were on the “advanced” hiking trail – GREAT! After about another hour later, and several more ups and downs, bends and twists, we rounded the corner and there it was – our final climb to the top. The only problem was, I was thoroughly exhausted and cranky and feeling as stubborn as a mule at that very moment and didn’t want to go one step further. The boys being the energetic adventurers they are managed to coax me along as they sprinted up the side of the mountain (ha! show offs!).
We did eventually begin our ascent, and although I didn’t quite make it to the top, I made it far enough up to be able to take in the splendor of the earth that God had made. It was beautiful! I sat down about two-thirds of the way to the top and waited as the boys went ahead and made their way all the way up. Even with the sun shining heavily down on the sparkling, pink rock, there was a breeze blowing that was so refreshing, like God’s angels were all around softly moving their wings back and forth. It was unbelievably peaceful sitting there on that gigantic slab of stone.
When the boys came back down to get me, we made our way back down to the base of the mountain. Much to our amazement and dismay we found out that had we just turned around and looked behind us at the beginning of our trek, we would have seen signs showing us the suggested path to get to the top.
I think back on that day, and I marvel at how it parallels how we live our daily lives. We begin with a sense of adventure, fresh and excited to take on whatever lies ahead of us. We don’t really take the time to stop and look at our surroundings or read the “map”. We simply dive right in, taking the path that perhaps to the eye looks the most pleasing, but in reality it’s quite deceiving. The path that started out so beautiful soon leads us into treacherous conditions.
But even so, in the midst of rocky terrain and giant thorns in our flesh, if we stop and take a good look at where we’ve been, we can recognize that going back that same way is not the answer. The answer is to take out that map (scripture), look it over and know it well, take a look around and follow the correct arrows (God). Blindly picking and choosing will only get us twisted up again.
We will inevitably still have bumps in the road, but with determination and the support of each other we can round that final bend and we will finally see the beauty the Lord has laid out before us. Heaven in all its beautiful glory and God’s angels to usher us in.