Each year for the past three years, I hike on the first Tuesday of May, which is the state of Indiana's voting day. It is usually the first hike of the season for me; and there is a spot I love to go to that I think is the prettiest spot in Indiana - but ONLY right now. It is only during the first part of May that his section is it's most beautiful. It is when the all the greenery are still green and the ground is still wet and soft from the winter thaw.
It's hard to get here in the first part of May. You have to hike through wetlands and mud past your ankles. You have to put all your fears aside as well: fear of spiders, wasps, bees, worms, webs, snakes, etc. Also, your dislikes as well: getting wet or muddy, or risk falling, or the feel of the mud seeping through your shoes, or whatever about nature you dislike.
Once you get through pushing down all your fears and dislikes and hike through it all - because let's face it, you will face something you do not like on this trial - and once you push past the pain from the treacherous hike itself (for someone who is completely out of shape it is treacherous), you get to a small piece of heaven in Porter, Indiana. It is the most beautiful wetlands you have ever seen.
When I first hiked here it looked like the place where Yoda lived in Empire Strikes Back (ahhhh the Dagobah system. I had forgotten for a second). This was years ago. Every year it looks a little different than the years before. That first year there, there were many trees. Many of those trees have since died and new life is forming and growing.
However, one thing remains: the beauty of this place and it's peaceful atmosphere. Not to mention there are always birds chirping. (There are so many different species and bird calls. Today, I heard and saw a turkey vulture for the first time ever. I hear woodpeckers all the time and have always wanted to see one, but they are sneaky little critters that leave or hide when I look up.) Those birds just remind me of God's majesty and how unbelievably smart He is. He created all those creatures and each one of them unique. As I am sitting here taking in the beauty of this place, the peaceful atmosphere, and listening to the birds, I feel the presence of God. He even blessed me with a butterfly flying right next to me around a plant almost the whole time I have been writing this. Anyone who knows me, knows that butterflies and penguins are my favorite creatures.
Several times on this hike today I wanted to quit. I even asked myself, "Is this even worth it?" I have never had to hike through what I did today and I stood there looking at what was infront of me and just debated if the hike through all of that was worth the price to see for just a few moments and a small area of ground. But then I said to God, "I gotta push through. I have given up so many times because the going gets tough on these trails. I have always missed part of the trail. This time, I am going to complete the entire trail. I am going to push through because no matter what way I take it is going to be hard going to get there with all the rain we have had." I then asked Him for the strength to do it, gave all of my fears/dislikes of the hike to Him, had faith He would see me through, and continued on.
And Oh wow, was the payout worth the trial! I have never seen the wetlands with so much water, so much green, and so many animals. God brought me to my own promiseland looking even better than any previous time I have come.
I started thinking while watching the landscape here. Life is kind of like this hike sometimes. Life is hard and sometimes we give up on things because of how hard the "hike" or "trials" of life are. Fears of various natures/kinds sneak in and try to control us, but if we ask God for His help and push through the mud and water up to mid-calf, push through getting stuck and praying you don't fall (even though you slip a few times), push through all the bugs flying around you - or whatever your trials are through life; then the beauty will come in the end. It could be something here on earth, or it may be the Kingdom of God itself. It is right there. Just keep your focus on God and ask Him, He will give you the strength to complete the "hike," and keep pushing on.
The biggest difference between life and today is that I have to get up off of this boardwalk and leave. I can't stay here all day even though I want to. I want to worship my God through this nature walk. I want to listen to the peaceful sounds of birds chirping and watch the butterflies while hearing the water flow from one side of the boardwalk to the other and praise Him for His creatioin. However, that isn't possible. On the other hand, in life, when we push through to the end, we get to stay with Jesus. We get to live eternally in heaven with Him! we get to see His glory and all His marvelous works. And when I see the tough trail ahead and ask myself, is it worth it to go see Jesus? There is no doubt that my answer is yes!
I am back! I may have fallen, but now I am risen up and am stronger. I know what lies before me and I know my God will guide me through it. I have found who I am in Christ! I have found my Chazown! I am no longer running from the Creator but running to Him. This is just the beginning. God has great things for all of us. All this beauty of this hike is just a beautiful reminder of who holds me under the shelter of His Wings!
Be blessed all!