I remember someone telling me they didn’t understand why anyone would want to hike because you can see just about anything you wanted from your car. Yeah, seeing it is cool, but how about seeing it, smelling it, hearing it, feeling it, and tasting it? God gave us five senses for a reason.
THE VIEW FROM THE CAR VERSUS THE FULL SENSORY EXPERIENCE OF THE TRAIL? GOD GAVE US FIVE SENSES FOR A REASON
I am reminded of a hike my friend Craig and I took to Maroon Lake. You could see incredible vistas from the parking lot. There is no comparison, however, in viewing a mountain from the parking lot to the feeling you get standing at the foot of that mountain, climbing it, and realizing the power and size of it. Through a strenuous and challenging hike, you get to know more about God’s character and the mountain he created might even have something to teach you when you take the risk to climb it. There is a sacred feel to it.
It is the same way with God. Too often we have a drive-by relation with God. We cannot get to know God and experience his power from the car. We must get out of the Beemer, sit at God’s feet if we are going to experience a real, honest relationship with him. We can’t just be a distant observer… he wants us to get involved with him.
Here are four lessons from that trail that might illustrate to your friends the value of experiencing the wilderness rather than just nodding their head at it from the car.
1. WHAT ARE YOUR BLIND SPOTS?
On our journey to Maroon Lake, we took a 4 wheel drive shuttle to a trailhead on West Maroon Pass. On the way up our driver pulled the beat up old van with only two working gears into a TINY spot on the edge of a cliff and stopped. My friend and I were holding our breath and leaning away from the huge cliff. The driver explained that there was a blind spot ahead so he liked to stop here and count to ten to give downhill driver time to come through if one is coming since we are definitely on a one lane track. What a great idea! We all have our spiritual blind spots and would often be a good idea to count to ten before proceeding. We might miss a few “collisions” and avoid over our proverbial edge! What are your blind spots?
2. GOTTA LOVE TRAIL MARKERS WHEN YOU’RE HIKING
As we started our hike, we began to see trail markers. What a welcome sight a trail marker can be when you are not sure you are on the right path. God puts trail markers in our lives, but trail markers can be easily missed if we are distracted or looking the wrong way. It is so easy to get lost. When I am focused on material and worldly things I can easily miss (and often do) the most obvious trail markers God may have put in my path.
For example, some trail markers are called cairns. Cairns are piles of rocks placed by others who had already traveled the trail to show places that the trail is hard to see or find. Our Christian forefathers have provided “cairns” to us through their writings, wisdom and lives. We are wise if we trust in their wisdom and follow them to avoid getting lost in this complicated and confusing world. Likewise if a guy in front of you successfully crosses a creek using certain rocks without getting wet you would be wise to follow his lead. What has worked in the past should not be lightly discarded just because it has been done before. It might just keep your boots dry!
Several times my hiking buddy or I noticed the other get off trail or miss a turn. We did much better as a team. We helped each other avoid mistakes and stay on the path that would lead us to the summit. One of primary joys of a relationship and with God is a community of fellow believers on the trail with you on your journey through life.
3. A LOT TO LEARN FROM FALSE SUMMITS
As we climbed ever higher, whole new vistas of mountain ranges emerged that were not visible before. We are searching for an alpine lake and we kept thinking “it must be below the next summit we can see.” We climbed several false summits before we found the real summit where the lake was. It can be that way with God too. As we grow our relationship with him and rise to new heights we see new things which were previously hidden to us. We may have many false summits in life. We think “oh if I can just get that job, that house, that boat, my life will be better. These are all false summits. There is only one true summit: Jesus!
4. THE PARADOX OF KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE TRAIL SO YOU DON’T TRIP, YET LOOKING AROUND TO TAKE IN THE BEAUTY, SO YOU DON’T MISS
There were so many spiritual lessons to draw from our hike. Here is one paradox that I learned that made it really worth getting out of the car and braving the elements with my friend. On a rocky trail if I remove my focus from the trail, I am likely to get off track or trip and fall on my face. Yet if I don’t look up I miss the beauty of God’s creation around me and I might miss the trail marker to go right or left. What do we do? Our walk with God calls requires us to both pay attention to the trail but it also requires us pause regularly to worship him in all of his goodness and beauty. We have to balance both and maybe even stop and take a look around every once in a while!