Sunday, May 23, 2010

Take a Hike

It is easier to climb a mountain than it is to trudge through a swamp.

Not that it is easy to climb a mountain. But the rewards of climbing a mountain far outweigh trudging through a swamp – mainly because there are NO rewards for trudging through a swamp.

I live about a 15 minute drive from a trail head to a pretty spectacular hiking trail. It is a trail that takes you to Icehouse Saddle. I’ve attempted this trail three times in the last three years and have yet to make it all the way to the Saddle. You start at an elevation of 4900 feet and the Icehouse Saddle is at 7555 feet. It takes 7 miles to complete the circuit. It is not easy, especially for an overweight 45 year old man who grew up long the shores of Lake Michigan – 586 feet elevation and changes about only 100 feet at the most.

But it is a spectacular climb. I feel exhausted after hiking up this part of the San Gabriel Mountains. But it is a good kind of exhaustion. Even though I’ve yet to complete the 7 mile trail, I feel like I have accomplished something. I’ve been rewarded with awesome views of Mt. Baldy (10,000 feet peak) and the Cucamonga Wilderness.

For me its a hard climb but well worth it.

But I’ve also trudged through some swamps and it is a completely different experience. When I was about 15 years old, my friend Frank and I took his truck into some back country near my home in Long Lake, Illinois. We got his truck stuck in about four feet of mud near Mud Lake. Mud Lake is a “lake” in name only. It is, in reality, a swamp. We had to walk out (this happened at a time when cell phones were about $3000 and required a bag the size of your grandmother’s purse to carry) to get help. It took us a couple of hours to trudge through the mud. We were exhausted and covered head-to-foot with a think, brown, smelly mud.

Hiking a mountain and trudging through a swamp. Both are hard, time-consuming, and exhausting. But only one is actually worth it.

That’s the way our choices in life are. What we choose to do with our lives will be hard, exhausting and time consuming. But only certain things will actually be worth it.

The thing that is worth it is your calling and purpose. And that is what God is calling you to do. He gives you gifts to find out what your calling is. He doesn’t try to fool you. It will be hard – like hiking a mountain or trudging through a swamp is hard.

But if you follow God’s calling, you’ll find that it is hard like hiking a mountain – with all the awesome rewards that come with it.

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