Sometimes we take on more than we can handle. I nearly did that this past August on our family vacation. We were staying in Maine near Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton and decided to take a hike to the top to see the view. Little did we know how long it would take or how hard it would be. It seemed like a great way to spend the day and how difficult could it be any way to follow a “well marked” fire trail to the tower at the top
I should have known this was going to be a little more challenging than I had imagined when we couldn’t find the trail head and nearly got lost in first half hour of the trip. Once we found the entrance, we saw a map and even two walking canes that seemed like a good omen for what lay ahead. For the first half hour of the walk, the path was pretty wide and easy to follow with a relatively slight incline.
As we were walking, I could see the path narrowing and a small wooden bridge coming up. We got to the bridge and looking ahead realized that things were about to change quickly and that we had to decide whether to continue on or not. Given that we were taking this hike with our two teenage boys, turning back was apparently not an option. They took off and quickly disappeared into the woods ahead of us. Deb and I trudged along and came to a clearing with several directions that we could go. We had been told to look for small red markers on the trees that would take us all the way to the top. Unfortunately, this seemed to mean that we were going to have to take the steepest path in front of us.
Not only did the path get incredibly steep really quickly, but the path was made up of lots of rocks and boulders that make walking slippery and treacherous. We kept putting one foot in front of the other and looking out for those little red markers. The boys had gotten so far ahead of us that they could no longer hear us and we could not hear them no matter how hard we called out. After what seemed like a really long time, we thought that we were getting near the top and realized that we still had a ways to go.
Deb and I realized that what we had thought would be a fun, and simple hike was turning out to be one of the hardest things we had ever done in our adult lives. We were both exhausted and a little concerned that our guys may not have followed the red markers as carefully as we had. Just when we thought we might not make it to the end, we saw a sign that told us we were nearly at the top. Soon, we came out onto the plateau and saw our two boys who wanted to know what took us so long.
The view was breathtaking and the weather was perfect. We could see for miles around us and enjoyed trying to see if we could find the lake that we were staying at. All of us agreed that regardless of how hard the hike had been, it was worth the effort. What a difference it made to be able to see our world from that high up.
It is pretty clear that God does not allow us to see things from the mountain top as often as we would like. Far too often all we can see is the trail ahead and we have to rest on His promise that He will take care of us at every step of the way. Some days, the Christian life is like the wide path with the slight incline and at other times it seems a lot like the steep path with the slippery rocks. I know that I am regularly tempted to question whether or not I will ever see things as He does from the crest of the mountain. It is at those times that He seems to put signs in my path that remind me how close the top really is and that I can make it by relying on His strength not my own. I am so glad that at my weakest moments, He provides far more than a walking stick and simply allows me to collapse in His arms as He carries me ahead.