This year, we met in the "middle" of Virginia and Georgia in the North Carolina mountains. One of the activities we did was hike to the top of Crowders Mountain. We had never been to this mountain before, so we were not sure which trail to take and how difficult each one would really be.
[There's a scale on the map, but you just never know WHO decided that moderate was actually moderate, if you know what I mean.]
We decided to take a trail that started off easy, continued on to moderate, and ended with strenuous. There was apparently a "landmark" at the end of the strenuous trail, so we decided we'd try that.
Here is the first part of the trail.
At this point, we quickly gathered that when the sign read, "easy", it was accurate.
We took our time and enjoyed the little "extras" from hiking the trail. We saw bugs, birds, and lizzards (also a big black snake that slithered across the path), we balanced accross log bridges, we played in the stream, we smelled beautiful flowers, and we found the perfect walking stick.
It was a beautiful journey. When the trail was "easy", we stopped long enough to enjoy the beauty of it. We shared coversation and stories. We relished the little moments together and took moments to breathe in the scenery along the way.
When the trail moved from easy to moderate, and eventually to strenuous, our thoughts and attitudes shifted. We stopped enjoying the little moments, our conversation slowed (and changed from the beauty around us to the challenges ahead of us), and we had to get into a more focused mindset.
The question was passed between us, "should we continue on all the way to the top?"
In life, we pass through seasons that could be considered easy, moderate, and strenuous. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to direct our attitudes in each of those stages. The strenuous stages do require us to focus and bring our attentions inward (and that's a good and healthy response), but we can still keep a positive outlook on the plans God has for us.
We decided to keep a positive outlook on the challenge ahead and we were determined to finish.
Then we faced the final climb:
We helped each other up the final stretch of the strenuous climb, and we made it to the "landmark".
It was truly breathtaking.
"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield" - Psalm 33:20
It was absolutely worth the struggles and the "season" of focus and quiet. We were able to enjoy the gifts in the first part of the climb, direct our efforts toward the challenges in the middle, and push through the trial at the end, only to discover that the view and sense of accomplishment was completely worth it. God does the same in our lives.
Enjoy the "easy" seasons and remember to stop to play in the stream and smell beautiful flowers.
Relish the "moderate" seasons because you're able to experience challenge but also stay on course.
Hope in the "strenuous" seasons as God has more wonderful plans for you than you could imagine.
Linking up with: Titus Tuesdays