Glimpses of Glory

Plaid-itudesBy Caleb Julin

God made man from the mud, why shouldn’t man see fit to crawl through it?

If you’ve known me for any stretch of time, I’m sure you know that I am an avid outdoorsman who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty. You name the outdoor activity, and the odds are that if I don’t already do it, then it’s on the list.

But the thing I love doing the most, is hiking. It’s my preferred method of exercise and I also just find it downright relaxing.

Now I would like to think that I am a relatively experienced hiker. I’ve hiked the three tallest peaks east of the Mississippi River, portions of the Appalachian Trail, the Everglades, Florida Keys, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, The Narrows in Zion National Park, Death Valley, Sequoia & Redwood National Parks, Crater Lake, The Black Hills, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, both the U.S. and the Canadian Rockies, Denali National Park, and that’s just to name a few.

I’ve hiked in daytime and nighttime, sunshine and rain, in rivers, over dirt and rocks, through mud, down to glaciers, across snow, and in temperatures ranging from 20° to 131° Fahrenheit.

In all of my hiking there is one thing that never gets old: the view. The number of miles and the aching muscles have a way of fading away when confronted with the breathtaking expanse of God’s creation.

Whether your hike leads you to a waterfall, an overlook, or something entirely different, a good hike will always provide a spectacular view.

You don’t even have to have an impressive hiking résumé to understand what I am talking about. I’m pretty certain that most people who read this have been to Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness, just five minutes from here. (If you have never been there, you want to go home and rethink your life.)

This summer I had a considerable amount of alone time that I spent hiking in the Chattanooga area.

One day, something occurred to me as I hiked up Lookout Mountain to Sunset Rock. As I trekked along the edge of the mountain, I suddenly caught a picture-frame view of the valley below. A small break in the trees provided a brief glimpse of Moccasin Bend that took my breath away. Stopping in my tracks on the path, I stood, craning my neck at this beautiful snippet of the beauty below.

Moving on, it wasn’t for another quarter mile until I got another peek, this time at the city of Chattanooga stretching out below. The window through the trees was slightly larger than before, and thus even more spectacular than my previous view. Once again I couldn’t help myself but to stop and stare at the beauty.

This continued to happen over and over until I reached the final overlook which surpassed them all. Each time the view grew increasingly spectacular, and each time I grew just as amazed as if it was the first time I had seen such a sight.

Now there is a reason that in folklore the old, wise man always sits on a mountain top. One can gain a lot of wisdom by sitting on the edge of a cliff and soaking in the view.

As I sat there on the edge of Sunset Rock, with my legs dangling off the cliff, I realized that the journey we walk in life is much like the hike I just took.

As we hike along down life’s dusty path, over rocks, and through briars, stubbing toes and bruising shins, with muscles aching from the strain and sweat on our brow, it can be easy to forget why we are walking the path in the first place. But it is at that moment, that God gives us a glimpse of a beauty unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced before. As we stand there in awe of this beauty, the pain seems to fade, and it all becomes worth it.

With our strength renewed, we push onward, eager for the greater beauty that lies ahead. We fight through the pain and growing exhaustion, and just as we wonder how we can take another step, we see a beauty even greater still and everything else slips away.

This goes on until we reach our final destination, a place of such beauty that words can’t aptly describe what we see before us.

It is so fascinating that God intersperses our lives with increasing levels of beauty and joy in life so that we can enjoy each time just as much as if it was our first.

If you don’t believe me, think back to your mother’s homemade cookies. You’d walk out of your bedroom and find your mom rolling cookie dough on the counter-top. If you were anything like me, you would do your best to sneak a bite (or three) of cookie dough. Your mom might smack your hand, but if you were lucky you could escape with a pinch of that glorious dough.

Next comes the smell of baking cookies. God was smiling on mankind when He created that smell, let me tell you!

And finally, the moment we all wait for, freshly baked cookies. Both the cookie dough and the smell were just glimpses of what was to come.

Let’s take the illustration a step farther with something more serious love. All romance begins with a crush. You’ve all had that twitterpated feeling you get in your stomach just from talking to your crush.

Before you know it, that twitterpated feeling evolves into dating, and dating into marriage. Yet marriage is still not the final step, for marriage is merely representative of the wedding between Christ and the church.

The examples are innumerable, but the point is that, throughout our life on earth, God allows us moments of joy and beauty that point us toward the final glory that we will experience in Heaven.

In his grace, he allows us to enjoy each of these snippets of beauty, even before their culmination.

So as you hike through the monotony of school and midterms, as you struggle through moments of sorrow, and days where nothing seems significant, take care that you don’t focus so closely on the path that you miss out on the glimpses of glory that are sure to come your way.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18, NIV).