Tuesday, February 21, 2012

View from the Top

Imagine this—six adults and thirteen kids on three sites. Our camping trips with Alan’s two brothers were never quiet, nor was it boring either. The neighboring campers tended to do one of two things; join us, or ask for sites at the other end of the park!

Some of us loved to hike. Others did not. Usually we’d compromise and hike together partway up a trail, then stop for lunch. Soon after that the non-hikers would head back with the younger kids in tow, while the rest of us more macho hikers continued on.

That’s what we did the year we camped in Yosemite Valley. We decided to hike the Vernal Falls Mist Trail, which is the first leg of the torturous hike to Half Dome.

On one of those gorgeous July days we had a leisurely lunch at the bottom of the Falls. Then the non-hikers returned to camp to play cards and splash in the creek.

Those who continued on discovered that the trail was rated as a moderate hike, listed at 1 ½ miles long. No problem; except that the trail was composed of steps carved in the granite bordering the falls. Vertical steps. Straight up. Lots and lots of those killer steps.

We paused frequently to rest. Often hikers returning from the top encouraged us that the view from there was worth the effort. But each time we took a break it grew a little bit harder for me to keep going. After we’d hiked what felt like 5 miles started to fall behind. When my thigh muscles (and I use that term very loosely) started to quiver with fatigue, I’d had enough.

So I quit. I stopped, sat down, and called up to the group that I’d wait there for them to pick me up on their way back.

To my relief, they were just far enough ahead of me that they could see what I could not; the end of the trail. One of my kids shouted down, “Mom, you can’t give up now! Wait until you see this!”

So I picked up my protesting body and persevered to the top. And it was worth the hike!

emerald pool for View from the Top Emerald Pool, so named because of its intense deep green color, was nestled behind Vernal Falls. The ice-cold pool was surrounded by granite rocks that have been smoothed by years of water rushing over it. The kids went to the far end where the creek flowed in and had created a natural water slide. I don’t know how they survived the shock of hitting that snowmelt water, but the shrieks coming from them testified to the fun they had in exploring this God-made playground. It was picture postcard beautiful. If I had quit when I wanted to, I would have missed creating one of my favorite memories.

I wonder how often I give up too soon in other areas of my life. Sometimes it seems so hard to stay on the path that God has chosen for me. Sure, I have people with me on the journey. And God even sends people to encourage me to continue on, to finish. But I’m tired, the way is so hard, and I just can’t see the end of it.

How long, O Lord, can I go on this way?

“Just a little farther,” He says. “I’m taking you to a place that will make all this struggle worthwhile. Trust Me. I’m with you, and I won’t give you more than you can handle.”

God always keeps His promises. He knows where He wants us to go. He knows how hard the journey can be. But He sends others to walk with us, to encourage us, and to help us see the end of the struggle.

So don’t give up. Don’t quit, for the end of your trial may be just around the corner.

The view when you get there will be worth it.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.  (Isaiah 40:30-31, Amplified Bible)

Further reflection:

1.  Are you facing something that makes you want to give up?
2.  Who has God placed in your life that you could go to for prayer and encouragement?
3.  Who might need the prayer and encouragement you could offer?

Father, sometimes I do get tired. Hard things seem to last far longer than I would have anticipated. But I know Your grace is sufficient in the midst of my weakness. I know You walk every step with me. Open my eyes to see those You have sent to encourage me, to see those that I can encourage, and to always be aware of Your presence that renews my strength.

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