Some years ago, my husband and I, along with some friends, went on a day hike at Manning Park.
The hiking trail we chose proved to be somewhat disappointing… it went on and on without the usual view points or interesting change of scenery that most mountain trails offer. We kept hoping it would get better but each time we followed the trail around a bend anticipating some change in the landscape we were let down. It seemed this hiking trail had nothing to offer except more of what we have already seen.
Finally we admitted we had had enough…. there was no point in going on. But before we started back we stopped to enjoy a rest break with something to eat and drink. As we sat talking and munching on our goodies, I gazed up the path at yet another switchback up ahead. I remarked I’d like to know what was around the next bend. My comment brought a response of groans… “just more of the same we’ve been looking at for the last two hours.” But I was suddenly curious…. so I suggested that the two fastest hikers in our group, my husband and girlfriend just run up the trail a little ways further just to see what was there… if there was something of interest then they should shout and the rest of us would come after them. To my surprise they agreed.
Vic and Lori were gone less than five minutes when we heard enthusiastic shouts.. and we realized they must have found something .. So we followed.
We turned the first bend and I saw another just up ahead. As I approached the last turn I heard a muffled roar that became louder...and louder...
I don’t know if I can adequately describe what assaulted my senses … but it is the closest I have ever come to understanding what the Israelites felt when God came down on Mt. Sinai .
The side of the trail suddenly dropped off , opening to our view a deep valley appropriately named Despair Pass, on the other side of which was spread a mountain range dominated by the rugged majestic peaks of Mt. Hozomeen. Deep in the valley lay Thunder Lake.
Breathtaking as the view was , what made the experience surreal was the wind.
It was unrelenting , whipping up through the valley and sweeping its powerful blast across the slope on which we could not stand upright without danger of being knocked down . But even more than the power it unleashed was the sound that sent thrills of fear through us. It sounded the way I would imagine God’s voice thundering His wrath against a sinful world. We sat for a long time trying to absorb the experience, imprinting it on our memory.
The contrast of a long , boring hike and then to be unexpectedly thrust into a vortex of sight and sound was something we will never forget… as well as the memory that had we turned back five minutes too soon we would have missed it !
The lesson of that hike has stayed with all of us, never give up!
Isn’t life often like that? How much have we missed because we gave up too soon?
Maybe you have been praying for a long time for a wayward loved one… and nothing has happened.. You wonder if your prayers are even being heard.. Don’t give up ! The answer may be just around the next bend !
Maybe you have a secret heart desire that you have expressed only in prayer… don’t give up… the answer may be closer than you know.
Maybe you are in a difficult situation, or dead end job….. don’t give up ! Give it your best… the opportunity you are waiting for may be just around the corner.
Maybe you are feeling that you contribute nothing of value in the daily humdrum of your life or you feel unappreciated…. keep going , you don’t know what may be waiting for you when you least expect it.
Throughout scripture we are being cheered on to fight the good fight , to keep going and not give up !!
Jesus, encourages us in Luke 18:1 to “always pray and not to lose heart.” !!
And again in Matt. 10:22 Jesus warns that though His believers will be hated and persecuted… He promises that if we don’t give until the end “we will be saved!”
Should we grow weary in doing good, Gal. 6:9 spurs us on with God’s promise that if we don’t give up “we shall reap” what we have sowed.
When we are disheartened in our Christian walk, Hebrews 12:3 reminds us to consider what Jesus endured for us…. “lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” Don’t give up !!
We have the promises of God, who cannot lie , that if we persevere and not turn back, “ we will receive the crown of life “ James 1:12
In Philippians 3:14 , it is easy to envision the apostle Paul as a hiker….. He says, “ One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God…”
May that also be our declaration today !