“There you saw how the Lord your God carried your burden, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
The picture above is of an area called the Rainbow Lakes, located just over one hundred miles from Billings, Montana high in the Rockies. The small, pristine lakes on this high plateau are strung together for several miles. The hiking is easy and the fishing is great. But it’s not easy to get there. The last leg of a long hike up to this area is a series of switchbacks which gain in elevation one thousand feet every mile.
My first encounter with this area was in the late 1970′s while serving as a youth pastor in Minnesota. The kids in the flat lands always want to go to the mountains! So we put a two week trek together and headed for Christikon Bible Camp in the Galatin range of Montana. Christikon is at the very end of the road, high in the mountains at the foot of the Rainbow Lakes. After a day to get ready, we set out with 20 teenagers to reach the lakes. Things didn’t go too badly until we reached the switchbacks. One by one the train of hikers stretched out as some fell farther behind. Stops became more frequent. Finally one of the kids, Kathy, dropped her pack, sat down and declared defeat. She could not go on. None of the hikes back in Minnesota had prepared her for this.
“Isn’t there some other way?”, she asked.
“No”, I replied. If your going to make it to the lakes, there is no other way.”
“But the pack is too heavy. I can’t carry it.”
At that point I could have sent her back to the bible camp where she could have spent the rest of the trip with the on -site campers. Instead I had her pack strapped on to mine and with the load taken from her she was able to make it the rest of the way as the other kids encouraged her on.
We arrived at the top of the beautiful plateau and found a shady spot to rest. After a few minutes I called everyone together.
“What just happened?”, I asked.
“We almost died from exhaustion!”, one of the boys called out. Everyone laughed.
“That’s for sure!”, I said.
“I also want you to think about this. We just went through something that looks a lot like the life of faith. The way can be very hard. We may even want to quit. But when we come to that hard place, Christ Jesus is always there to take the burden from us. And because He is with us, leading us on, we can dare to push on and support and care for one another. And look around! When he finally brings us to the place of promise it will be awesome!”
Postscript: Before that day Kathy was the princess of the group, if you get my drift. After that day and for as long as I was her pastor, she became one of the most helpful and caring kids I have been blessed to know. Funny how that works!
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”