As the title implies, our family just returned from a fabulous road trip to some of Utah’s national parks. I got to experience firsthand the joys of driving long distances with a toddler (and how it is when trying to get them to sleep in different hotels each night). But tantrums aside, with our family expecting baby #2 in three short months it was a good trip for the three of us (minus the part where I got a phone call from our dog sitter that our one dog decided to run away for a few short minutes!)
But I really was reminded of two key principles out there in Utah, both during our long drive and also while hiking.
Reminder #1: God’s creation is massive, expansive and awesome. WE REALLY ARE SO SMALL.
On the first official day of our adventure, we decided to hike one of the trails that was in the town that we were staying in before checking into our hotel. On that hike, we were surrounded by rocks, so much so that we took a wrong turn and ended up off of the trail (let’s call it scenic detour) for at least thirty or so minutes. When you are in the middle of the desert with no landmarks or points of reference in sight, it can be quite intimidating (it wasn’t the first time we ended up on a scenic detour while hiking in this unfamiliar territory) But when you stand there with nothing but beautiful rock formations, and arches all around you, you are completely humbled and in awe of God’s creation (at least I was).
The insignificance of myself, or people in general was even more apparent as we drove through Grand Escalante Staircase, on scenic route 12. The “staircase:” stretched for miles and miles, really as far as you could see was just this magnificent sight. We were just this one little car, one little family, a tiny speck making our way across this massive landscape.
My husband isn’t a huge fan of heights, so during points on our drive where we were on a narrow road, high above the ground, surrounded by canyons on either side he gripped the steering wheel a little tighter (I also teased him a little, so I’m not sure that helped)
I say all of this to really just to say, it puts life into perspective. knowing that God created these canyons and mountains and arches and just beautiful formations that make you feel like you have stepped onto a new planet. It renewed my sense of purpose and wholeness. I felt God’s love for me, and really for all of mankind through His creation as we explored these different areas. I felt that every detail, every rock, every arch, every canyon was attended to with much care and consideration, much like God cares and attends to us as His children.
Reminder #2: Hiking is a metaphor for life.
So even though my husband and I were able to hike at several national parks, we both agreed that our favorite hike was the one we did on our first day that wasn’t in a national park, but just local to the town we stayed in.
I’m not 100% sure why that one was my husband’s favorite, but for me it was my favorite because it required perseverance and faith to accomplish.
First, as I mentioned before we took a wrong turn and it landed us trying to hike/walk alongside railroad tracks (you’d think that would have been our first clue, but we wanted to be on the right track so we let our stubbornness guide us for a little too long)
We did notice that the trail had disappeared, but kept on for a little longer. Even though we didn’t turn around the second we realized that we might be off track, we did come to our senses and turn around. It is never fun to have to backtrack, or admit that we are wrong, but once we traced our steps back to the initial point we went astray, it was easier to stay on course for the remainder of the hike.
Do I even have to explain the parallels here?! (Don’t worry I will)
How many times have we, in an attempt to follow the right path for our life, take a wrong step and end up off course? Even more than that, how are we likely to respond when it is brought to our attention? Are we able to admit we messed up, turn around and go back, or do we willfully think we know best and that we will make it work by doing our own thing?
I will say that hiking trails and paths are made for a reason, it is much easier to follow the steps along a path (especially when you see people ahead of you, or footsteps) than it is to take a blind guess about the direction you should be going.
Follow the path, and when you veer off-course, do what you need to do to get back on. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing what you need to do to stay on the path God has laid out for your life.
Also on that first hike, we came across some obstacles that required blind faith and quick thinking (again, so akin to life!)
Once we scrambled up on some rocks, we were met with a rope and footholds next to a rope on a steep incline that required us to use the help of the rope and also the pre-existing footholds that were in the rock.
I’m not going to lie, it was intimidating, but after a deep breath and using the rope it was easier once we got going, and at the top of the rock we were met with a huge sense of accomplishment… until we saw a rickety old ladder that was our next obstacle to get through.
Doesn’t that just figure, that when you get over one hurdle or obstacle that another one is right there waiting for you?
The ladder itself offered a little more stability (or perceived stability) climbing up it seemed more stable then using the rope to pull ourselves up. What both of these hurdles had in common though is that it requires complete faith and trust in what is holding you up in order to move forward. Hesitating or taking too much time on the rope or ladder would incite fear, instead we just had to trust that these things would hold us and lead us our next step forward, even though we couldn’t see the top of the mountain.
That’s what faith is, really. Not being able to see what is ahead, and being able to trust what (or in our case, WHO) is holding you to know that you are secure.
Finally, on that hike while huffing and puffing (side note: I did not see any other pregnant ladies on the trails, I wonder why that is) when your legs are tired and you are trying to catch your breath, it really can become a mental game just to keep going. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and even though it isn’t pleasant or fun at the time, you know that at the end will be worth it.
Climbing that mountain in the moment isn’t the most enjoyable thing, but once you reach the top, the struggle you just endured becomes well worth it. I feel like that is the same with following Jesus, it’s not easy and at times we want to quit, give up or turn around, but in the end it is all worth it.
I think this is why people do CRAZY hikes, like at Yosemite or there is one at Zion National Park called Angels Landing that is basically death-defying (ok, maybe don’t go THAT crazy) but I can seen how people can become adrenaline junkies and set out to traverse the wilderness and summit the highest peaks in the world. It takes perseverance and faith to reach the top, and once you are at the top looking down there is nothing like it.
Effort and climbing and struggles all shift our vantage points. We see more when we endure more, and as Christians we endure a lot! I know I haven’t provided any scripture references in this post, but there are several that support what I am taking about. I encourage you to pull out your bible and dig into the word, don’t just take my word for it!
***if you need some help, please comment below and I will reply with some scripture to steer you in the right direction!
Until next time, friends!