Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Lesson from the Trail

On our recent trip to Montana we took three hikes in the area surrounding Bozeman. Though it was unplanned at the time, we actually hiked them with there being increasing difficulty for each hike.
The first one was Grotto Falls which is over 1 mile in length but quite easy. It is actually listed as “wheelchair accessible”. Not sure I’d want to try it in a wheelchair, but it definitely was the easiest hike. We took some great photos along the way.

The 2nd hike was the “M” Trail. There is a 260 foot “M” made up of whitewashed stones on the side of a hill just outside of Bozeman. It is for the University of Montana, Bozeman. The trail was almost 2 miles long with a 850 ft. vertical climb. There were a lot of switchbacks as we zigzagged our way up. We headed up after dinner and we were able to view the sunset on the way.

Such beautiful views!
The lush rolling hills dotted with trees looked soft in the setting sun.

Once at the “M”, we rested just a short time as it was getting dark and the
hike down would need to be taken very carefully.

Our final hike was on the Mt. Ellis trail. It was about 6 miles long with a 2400 ft. vertical climb and by far the most difficult. The first mile was in the sun along what looked like a cattle trail. The temperature was in the upper 80’s, so we were packed with lots of water and food for lunch at the top.

Grateful when we finally got to some shade, we rested and drank when we got to a place at the bottom of the hill where we could get relief from the sun. From then on there was a mix of sun and shade with the trail getting more and more difficult. Sometimes it would plateau and allow us to rest our legs for a bit, but we knew that it wouldn’t stay like that for long. To reach the top we knew that there was much yet to climb. At the steepest point where the trail went straight up, I could go maybe only 10 steps and then had to stop, gasping for air.

We carefully picked our way over roots, plants and rocks. We were rewarded for our perseverance when we reached the meadow near the top.

The meadow was filled with beautiful wild flowers.
Everywhere you looked!
Everywhere you stepped!
And the views were amazing!

Even though we weren’t quite at the very top, this was where our ascent would end. In the shade we ate our lunches, rested and took it all in.

The cameras would try and fail to capture the beauty of what lay out before us.
My God is the god of creation.
He spoke and it came to be.
I remember standing in silence as I looked at the work of His hands.

But, therein lies the lesson.
A few times along the way we stopped to turn around and look at the views around us. We were so focused on what was right in front of us as we picked our way along the steep trail that we had to remind ourselves to look up and around.
To see where we had come from and take time to enjoy the process.
I find that at times I can be so focused on what I’m going through right now that I fail to take in the bigger picture.

“What’s my next step?”
“Where do we go from here?”
“How will we manage this?”
“When will this end?”

Yes, those are things to consider – prayers to be brought before my God.
But, wait!
I don’t want to exhaust myself with myself!

I need to remember that God sees the big picture. Not only is He at the top – He IS the top. He’s “the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
Yes, there will be times where we can only manage a few steps at a time. We need to rest, to remember to breathe, to remember that we only see “but a poor reflection as in a mirror.” II Corin.13:12
I’ve heard it described as us only seeing the back side of the tapestry of our lives. God seeing the front, knowing what the finished portrait will be. While we see the back – the tangled threads and knots that look like chaos.
But, I do believe that we choose the colors. Will they be the colors of joy? Of a life lived by trust through the unknown?
Or will it be the colors of doubt? or of fear?

Direct my path, holding me up like the hiking poles I used, turning my eyes to search for you and your working in my life and those around me.
Direct me with your eyes. Help me to trust, dwell and delight in you.

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:5-7

Thanks to Christina and Zach for some of the beautiful pictures.

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