Summary: This ermon is about restoration to service of Jesus Christ.
Twenty-six miles. I stare at the trailhead sign and wonder if I really want to do this again. You see, I’ve been here before. I’ve climbed this mountain trail a number of times. I’m getting older. I might be getting wiser. But do I really need to climb a mountain trail? Do I need to wonder in the wilderness, alone, looking for who knows what? Do I need to make this giant circle?
Every time I have been here I have come seeking beauty, solitude, and answers. I was able to find beauty. It surrounded me on the trail. The white aspens give way to tall, thin pine trees. Animals abound here. I’ve seen squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and countless types of birds. Last time a bull moose, complete with a full, elegant rack of antlers that showed he too had climbed this mountain numerous times, strode across my path not more than thirty feet from where I stood. I even saw the first bald eagle I’d seen in ten years soaring above the rocky outcropping at the mountain’s peak. Leaves and pine needles crunch beneath the feet, bringing up a scent I remember from my childhood. The very peak of the summit sometimes reflects in the lake below.
There is nothing but solitude on this trail. Never have I seen another hiker along the way. I even imagine my car sits desolate in the parking lot, even though it is the starting point for three trails. No. Up there it will be only God and me. No other humans. There won’t be a world closing in, its prying eyes wanting to know everything I say, do, and think.
So why do I hesitate? What keeps me from grabbing my gear from the trunk of the car and climbing the mountain?
Oh, I’m not afraid of what might be up there. I know there are bears because I’ve seen the claw marks on trees at the level of my head and higher. I don’t carry a gun and fortunately I haven’t seen a bear yet. Nor do I think I could shoot one if I did. I’ve heard rumor that there are still mountain lions in this part of the country. I’ve never seen or heard one out here. I’m not even sure what I’d do if I did. I know there are snakes. But I have lived with my fear of snakes for so long I’ve learn how to best avoid them, how to keep an eye out for them, and most of the ones in these hills aren’t poisonous.
No. It isn’t the animals I might encounter along the trail that scare me. Nor is it the though of being alone on top of a mountain, in the dark night. I’ve done that many times before. Once I camped out alone for three months. It isn’t a fear that I might get lost either. I don’t plan on getting off the trail for any reason. No. Danger isn’t what I fear about this hike.
I don’t care about being alone either. I came here seeking solitude. I will have it I’m sure. I’ve hiked this trail a number of times before and never once have I seen another hiker along it. In fact, I imagine my car sits desolate in the parking area despite the fact that it is the gathering point for three trails.
Those are not what concern me in the least. I told you I have been here before.
I seem to have lost my purpose. My heart has lost the momentum it once had. I am weary, road worn, battle torn, and discouraged. There are days that I wonder which direction I’m going or if anyone is still leading.
It’s the questions that bother me most. It’s the answers that I fear. Questions like “What if I’ve done it all for nothing?” Am I fighting the battle that I’m supposed to be fighting? What about my personal life? Is this really where I need to be at this stage in my life? Should I keep going on the path I believe is assigned to me? Or is it time to change directions?
And what about the battle itself? I’ve suffered wounds along the way. Was the sound of retreat sounded and did I miss it? Am I out here on my own? Should I be making my own way back? Where is my leader? Is He still leading the charge and have I lagged behind so far that I can no longer see Him? Did I miss some left turn back in Albuquerque? Or was it a right?
It is little wonder that I have so many questions at this point in my life. I know I’m not alone in this. So many of us come to the same point in our lives. We wonder if there is any point to it all and so we come back to a starting point. We come back to familiar ground.