Today I had the rare luxury of a Saturday morning to myself. No kids. No clients. Just me, to do whatever I felt like. I felt like hiking and it's getting later in the season so my hikes are probably getting numbered. I went to an old favorite, Lake Serene. I often refer to Lake Serene as "God's Stepmill" because the WTA (Washington Trails Association) has built stairs into the mountain as the grade is pretty steep. It's a workout for sure and a perfect trade for my gym stepmill today.
I hadn't been to Lake Serene in probably 5 years or more. I used to hike it often enough that I always knew exactly where I was on the trail and what was coming next. While it was still very familiar, it had been long enough that I had forgotten the different land marks and was no longer able to decipher how far I was from the lake. It seemed like it was one staircase after another. As soon as I'd get to the top of one there would be a switch back to another staircase. It just kept going on...and on...like this for what felt like eternity.
Even once I had cleared all the staircases, I entered into a rocky area that was challenging to navigate and I could never see farther than the next switchback. I had no idea where I was in relation to the lake, my destination. Every time I would make another turn and see another challenging terrain ahead, I would think: "Oh my gosh, seriously!!! How can I not be there yet?"
And then I laugh. I'm pretty sure God laughs at me and what it takes to get my attention and to teach me a lesson. I'm also pretty sure that He knows getting me out in the woods by myself, free of distractions, is a good way to get through to me.
While I was hiking today I kept wanting to quit, to turn back and be done with it all. I've never felt that way before when I hike. It felt just like how I've been feeling about life in general lately. The terrain ahead seems challenging to navigate and I feel like I've been navigating challenging terrain long enough...why am I not there yet? And I can't see what's coming next in my life and that is scary and it's frustrating and it is requiring me to grow in faith and it's testing my endurance.
I want to get to the lake already. I want to sit down and eat my snack and drink my water and enjoy the view. I want to rest. I want to relax. But there's no shortcut to the lake so I have no choice but to keep going. It's like my life - I want to be on "the other side" already. I want to rest and relax and just enjoy the view for awhile.
As I kept going on my hike today, there were a lot of amazing things - views and waterfalls - that I would have missed if there had been a shortcut. I know that God isn't delivering me from my circumstances because there's stuff he doesn't want me to miss along my journey, there's growing he wants me to do along my way to the "lake" where I will get to rest and relax awhile before I go back down the mountain and find another mountain to climb next week.
Because life is like that. What goes up must come down. After you've climbed one mountain, you're on to another mountain to conquer that will have it's own set of challenges and spectacular views.