Have any of you ever been hiking? There is something beautiful about being in the woods, on a mountain, or even in the middle of a sand dune with no distractions. It’s quiet. It puts God’s creation on display. It lets you focus on the world around you in the most simple and breathtaking way. If you’ve never tried it, do it! Seriously, just go to your closest state park, find a trail, and go; you won’t regret it!
We stumbled upon this new hobby by accident! One day, we all decided to tag along with Clint when he went up to Ludington for work. Northern Michigan is beautiful any time of year. And, in the summer it’s a little cooler and the lakeshore is just perfect for a day trip. So the plan was to let him get his work done and then head up to Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes. We were going to climb the big dune with the kids and take in the pretty view. Simple enough, right?!
We drove around town and then headed for the first big dune we laid our eyes on! It was huge! But, when we got to the top…the view was just another sand dune. And when you got to the top of the next one there still was no lake at the bottom of it. And when you got to the top of that one, you only saw another, and another, and another…
Being the committed family that we are (more like I was too stubborn to turn around), we continued on. We kept climbing. We kept running down the side of one sand mountain only to crawl up another. Each time hoping to see Lake Michigan as we reached the top. However, we were only seeing more sand.
It was becoming quite obvious that we had chosen the wrong dune. People were turning around and telling us that there were more obstacles ahead; that they were turning back. There was another family, just like us, who told us just to give up as they headed back for the car disappointed and tired. We considered it. But, there was something about that feeling we got every time we reached the top. The feeling that this was going to be it! That this was the last one!
Finally, after what seemed like forever we saw the end! Not in the form of water, endless blue skies, or forever reaching lakeshore. It was in the form of a sign that said that Lake Michigan was still 1/2mi in front of us. That we had a 1/2mi more of sand, more sun, and more climbing. What?!!!
Hope is a tricky thing. It can spur us on to accomplish great things. It can keep us going when we just want to give up. The feeling that what lies ahead is greater than what lies behind defines hope. But, what happens when what your hoping for seems constantly out of reach? When hope is deferred, and every time you get to the top of a mountain you only see another one?
I wish I had the perfect response to lift the discouragement that seems to fall every time life happens. When we fail to get the job promotion; again. When we fight with our spouse or kids,over the same thing; again. When it feels like our dreams are just too far to grasp; again…
I do know that we have a choice. That just like love, hope is a choice. The choice that pushes us forward. I am talking about the cling-to-hope-even-when-all-is-lost choice. I am talking about the decision to get-up-and-face-another-day-and-climb-the-next-mountain. The choice we make to decide that what lies over the top of the next sand dune has to be better than the sand dune we just climbed if only because it’s not the same sand dune we just climbed!
That every step forward takes you further from what is behind you.
This is hope.
Well, we did it! We continued for another 1/2 mi and were rewarded with one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice. We were hooked; hiking has become something we love. Even Livi (who is opposed to most physical activity), can occasionally be convinced to join.
I am going to choose happy this week because HOPE. Because we would have missed that gorgeous view if we had just focused on what was right in front of us. We would be missing out on a ton of other great views too if we hadn’t seen it through to the end.
That hike in the dunes ended up being 7mi total! How we missed the other signs, I am not sure.
Oh, and don’t ask my kids if they have the same great memories I do…you won’t get the same response!