During these chilly winter months, Nancy and I warm up remembering our sunny vacation last spring in Hawaii. The incredible beauty of those islands combined with the ocean breezes created the perfect setting to both relax and worship the One who made them! Even the memories are tropical.
One of the most famous landmarks in the Islands is Mount Haleakala (pronounced just as it looks with a long e. It’s very fun to say!) This 10,023 foot peak is a shield volcano that dominates the eastern end of Maui. Its summit is barren of most vegetation but is the native habitat for the rare and elusive Silversword which flowers only once in its sometimes 90 yearlong lifespan. While I did get to see several plants, I wasn’t privileged to catch any of them blooming.
The trip up this peak was very interesting, however. Having left our motel on the western side of the island early that morning, I made my way to the base of the mountain and started the road to the top. Along the way, I encountered several descending bikers who were trucked up and then coasted down. As they passed, I prayed that none would lose their brakes, for it would lead to great pain.
As I climbed ever higher, I glimpsed a few Ringneck Pheasants as well as some colorful eucalyptus trees. Higher still, the trees thinned out and the ground was covered with shrubs. It was about that altitude that I began to notice the fog setting in. By the time I arrived at the entry to the National Park about halfway up, the fog was so dense it was almost impossible to see the road. I seriously considered turning around and heading back, confident that there would be no view from the top whatsoever.
Nevertheless, with limited time in Hawaii, and with unlimited miles on our rental Jeep, I pressed forward, though quite slowly. For the next few miles of switchbacks and shrubs, the fog remained dense and cool. Eventually, however, it began to thin out and I could start to make out shapes in the distance. Further still and I noticed the sun breaking through overhead and the road stretching out before me. Even higher and the fog disappeared completely and the mountain was crystal clear!
As I continued to the summit, I paused along the way to take in the absolutely incredible vistas sweeping out to the Pacific Ocean. At one pullover, a short hike yielded a panoramic view around most of the north end of the island and the cinder cones with incredible swirls of reds, greens, and browns.
Finally, I arrived at the top and took the sidewalk to the overlook where the view to the east was truly magnificent. I then understood why many tourists make reservations and arrive at the summit early each morning to watch the sun rise over the ocean and illuminate the special mountain.
As I’ve thought about that trip, I was reminded of times in life when discouragement and hopelessness clouded my way. There have been stretches in life when I seriously considered turning around and heading back, or at the very least, stopping at that location, confident that nothing positive lay beyond.
Like Mt. Haleakala, I’m so thankful I didn’t do either. As I kept traveling, eventually those difficult stretches brightened, the fog dissipated and the journey became enjoyable once again. In fact, thanks to God’s overflowing grace, it has become downright awesome!
Maybe you’re in a stretch of life right now where it’s hard to find your way. Circumstances have closed in around you and it’s difficult to go forward. You’re tempted to turn around or just stop and camp out, doubting that anything positive could possibly be ahead. Don’t do it. Keep going in faith knowing that God has promised to bring you into the sunshine of a broad beautiful place if you keep your eyes on Him.
All of us encounter foggy spots in life in which it’s easy to get disoriented, discouraged, and depressed. The important thing is not to get stuck there, but to keep moving forward with Jesus as our guide. He knows the way through the fog and will lead us to stunning vistas if we will only trust and follow Him. I pray that we each will do that today!