Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. –Hebrews 12:1-2
One summer, we held our youth camp at a Mammoth Mountain ski resort that is legendary for its beauty and grandeur. Located in the High Sierras, this majestic setting is breath-taking (partly because it’s at 9,000 feet in elevation)! When I looked at the driving directions for the trip, I saw that we’d be driving on Highway 395 for over four hours! Four hours with no place to stop; driving a van filled with freshmen girls. Ouch!
Let me describe most of the trip on Highway 395 in one word: nothing. Aside from the occasional dust devil swirling through the barren miles of dirt, there was nothing to see, nowhere to stop, no radio stations to listen to and little intelligent conversations to be had. I was bored. The students were bored with my questions and my constant phrase, “Can you talk a little louder? I’ve gone deaf from too many years in youth ministry standing in front of speakers.” It was a four-hour odyssey of pain.
And then, finally, we rounded a bend, climbed steeply for three miles and we saw the peak of Mammoth Mountain peering at us from above the cloud. The air cooled as we climbed in elevation. The sun appeared more spectacular, more serene and brighter. The mountain range was etched against the horizon like a watercolor painting, resplendent in orange, red and gold. Arriving at Mammoth after driving on Highway 395 was like departing hell and entering heaven.
We got out of the car, stretched our muscles, inhaled deeply and soaked in the beauty. To be honest, I was tempted to drop to my knees and confess that along the way, I had been thinking about where I could bury a few of my students.
Reflecting on the drive, I relearned something I already knew but always tend to forget: regardless how challenging the journey, the right destination makes the trip worth it.
This is true in the Christian journey as well. The uphill and downhill portions that you travel through life are all worthwhile. The curves and detours of life’s challenges can bring wonderful blessings when we trust in God and allow Him to shape us. The long stretches of normal life are enriched when we encounter the beauty found in relationships with family and friends. The miles you traverse to build a close, intimate relationship with Jesus are so worth the investment of time and effort.
And one day, arriving in heaven will make the journey on this earth seem like such a short drive, even if your life has been like one long road trip on Highway 395. You’ll round a bend, feel a cool, fresh whisper of wind on your cheeks, know you’ve been raised to a higher elevation and there you’ll be: in the splendor and glory of heaven, with Jesus, forever and ever. You’ll drop to your knees and praise. What a day that will be!
Until then, keep driving, my friends. We’re all in this together.
1. Where do you find yourself today on life’s journey? Are you in the barren desert, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between?
2. How do you see God shaping your life as you head toward your final destination?
1 Corinthians 2:9; James 1:4; Romans 8:18