The one and only time I hiked the La Luz trail with friends— nine miles of steady incline, strewn with rocky patches and crazy switchbacks, leading up to the top of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque—I remember how hard it was, how exhausting, how it tested every muscle in my body. I remember sometimes having to stop every few feet to catch my breath. At one point I even got a muscle cramp in my foot that was so painful I thought something would snap! I wanted so badly to turn back, but I couldn’t. My ride home was at the top of that mountain; a scenic tram ride back down to my waiting car. If I turned around and gave up, I would have to go back the way I came, a challenging descent over those same rocky outcroppings, using strained-to-the-limit muscles to brace my downward steps.
My hiking companions encouraged me onward, stopping whenever I needed a break, slowing their own normal pace (they had done this hike many times before) to match my faltering, untrained steps. In the end, I was so glad I had persevered, because the view at the top was breathtaking! I could see clearly what had been obscured by the trees and hills before. Other hikers who had climbed ahead of me were there, resting their legs, breathing in the fresh mountain air, and cheering for fellow climbers as they cleared that last hill and approached the summit. I felt like part of a special club of conquerors as I received the congratulations of others. I had accomplished something I didn’t think I could do. And the sight of that waiting tram, my ride home, was wonderful.
My journey with Jesus is like that hike up the La Luz trail. Following His path requires effort, but the summit is so worth the climb. The early morning wake up calls, the discipline of studying His word and committing it to memory, the hours on my knees seeking His face, the daily surrender to His will even when it hurts; it all brings me closer to the high places with Jesus. Sometimes it seems as though little progress is made. Sometimes I want to quit. But quitting, or going backwards, only keeps me in the rocks longer. It puts more strain on already stretched spiritual muscles. I might still get home, but I would have missed out on the joy of cresting that summit; of being able to look back over the route I had taken and say that I made it! Of taking that well-deserved rest at the top with Jesus. And when I reach Him He is always cheering for me, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and rest with Me. The view is great from here.”
So press on, fellow hiker. Put one foot in front of the other and make forward progress. Keep your eyes on the summit, where Jesus is. It’s worth the climb!