A Hike

October 21, 2007
By
As you exit the 15 passenger van, you regain your balance. The twisting, banking, roller-coaster ride down to the lake always does this. People congregate in clusters as you wait for the entire youth group to prepare for the ascent. While it may not be an imposing mountain, you know that the climb can be strenuous for an average Chicagoan. After a final check for the belongings, you begin the trek up the east cliffs of Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, keenly anticipating the beauty and grandeur of creation that you know is at the top.

As your legs start warming up like a car in winter, you begin to take in your surroundings. The dense forest is a fusion of mystery and adventure, asking you to advance farther. The path starts to climb rapidly as stone steps present themselves a worthy obstacle to out-of-shape legs. Soon the stillness of the forest is dominated by the heavy breaths of teenagers struggling to keep pace with those athletic individuals interested in displaying their prowess. Your calves and quads begin to burn as you near the halfway point. Fortunately, people stop to watch a particularly daring teenager swing on the sturdy vine hanging like a neon sign from a tree, asking a brave soul to give it a try. As the crowd disperses, you prepare yourself for the final push to the top of the cliff where you will have time to settle down your heart and mind.

Anticipation builds as sky can be seen through the trees. You’re almost there. The panting gives way to elated shouts as each person claims their individual rock for their devotional time. You trod off to your v-shaped rock overlooking a drop-off of several hundred feet. Placing yourself precariously on the edge, you take a deep breath and take in the view. The early morning mist has cleared from Devil’s Lake and the surface of the water is like a sheet of glass, with only scurrying boats breaking the uniformity. Your gaze is quickly diverted as a hawk soars above you to the north. It rises and falls like your breath as you watch it glide closer and closer until you can see the features of its face. Just as quickly, it flaps its wings and moves on. The breeze pushing it on finds its way onto your face to relieve the warming sun. Its rays light up the lake with an ethereal glow as it casts shadows across the rugged rocks. Each formation has its own expression, some welcoming hikers to rest, while others challenge the most formidable of climbers. As you glance to your right, you begin to notice the clink of metal upon rock as the leaders set up the climbs for the day. The sounds are reassuring as you recover memories from the depths of your mind from previous years on this same rock, on this same day, on other Labor Day weekends.

As in previous years, after taking in the ruggedly beautiful landscape, you open your Bible, eager to find the one who made this wilderness. Looking around once more you see the creator’s power in the rocks, his whisper in the gentle breeze passing through the leaves, and his marvelous grace in the rays of light warming the lake. You feel a peace as you realize that this same God who made this great expanse wants to know you personally and you feel honored to be in his presence and his creation. You won’t leave the rock unchanged.





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