Most mornings I don't get to hike in the nearby mountains, but I do take an hour long walk in the parks just down the road from my house. From these parks I can see the Huachucas in clear view. In fact, I can see several mountain ranges surrounding me from all 360 degrees. But the Huachucas, which harbor the army post, Fort Huachuca, are the closest mountains and definitely the most beautiful from this vantage point.
From where I live these mountains look large and stony. While they are definitely more green than say the Mules or the Whetstones, they are nothing like the mountains I grew up with in North Georgia. Still, the longer I live here in Arizona, the more beautiful they are to me.
When I'm hiking in the Huachucas, one trail at a time, I feel small and insignificant. The mountains seem to swallow me up when I am deep inside one of the canyons wandering down a meandering path and looking for the next marker so I can know where I am. I look up and the crests of the mountains seem large and impending, somehow bigger now that I am deep within their shadows. I climb and climb and climb and never seem to get to the top of anything. There's always a higher peak, another hill to scale.
But when I'm on my morning walks and look across the 7 or 8 miles that separate me from the mountains, those same peaks look very different. Yes, they're still quite large. In fact, depending on the time of day, the lighting, and whether there are any clouds blanketing them, the mountains sometimes seem to grow before my very eyes. But from a distance, the Huachucas seem less impending, less intimidating. They are out in the open, out in full view, and while they still seem gloriously majestic, they also seem more friendly, more comforting and reassuring somehow. Instead of appearing to me as a daunting mountain that I must climb they are simply a gigantic marker of God's faithfulness against the backdrop of the bigger picture.
While I'm in the thick of those mountains, I'm consumed with where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, how long this hike will take, how to ration my water supply throughout my journey, and where I get to pause for the next break. That's not to say I'm miserable when I'm on the mountain; I'm not. But being in the mountains is very different from looking at the mountains. In fact, it has occurred to me that if I never got to look at these very mountains from a distance I probably wouldn't enjoy hiking in their midst. It's the fact that I've seen their beauty and their grandeur from afar that makes exploring their secrets all the more fun, all the more enjoyable.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the thick of life that we get a little overwhelmed. Whether we're in the tangle of parenting, in the rat race of our career, in a sticky place with a relationship, or in over our head with financial worries, we can lose perspective quite quickly. And even if we wouldn't trade places for the world (because life really is good, it's just messy too), the worries and frustrations of those places can loom over us like mountain peaks we just can't seem to scale.
Consumed with following the trail, wherever it might lead, we begin to think this little mountain range - this one little part of life - is all there is. Things get blown out of proportion, we lose perspective, and our energy is drained.
Could you use a little perspective today? Maybe you need to step away from the mountain you are trying to climb, whatever it may be, and take another look at it from a different vantage point. I know I've had to step away from a few goals I've had recently and look at them again from another angle. Those goals, worthy as they may be, were beginning to wear me down. They were making me feel like I often do on an uphill hike - like I keep stepping up, up, up, and never getting anywhere.
I laid those dreams down not long ago and stepped away from them. I asked God to help me look at things from His vantage point and give me some much needed clarity. And He did. Then I picked them back up and began the journey again, refreshed and ready for the climb.
Psalm 78:16-17 reminds us that we all need to "just step away" every now and then and take in the larger view. The Message reads:
Hey, it's Friday! Have a great weekend. Take a hike and I'll see you Monday! (But leave me a comment first!)
Still, when I tried to figure it out,
all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
Then I saw the whole picture.
Mmm, mm, mm! Nothing takes away a headache like a little time in God's sanctuary!
Something giving you a splitting headache today? I know that feeling. Maybe it's time to take a walk in the park instead of journeying on that same endless trail today. Oh you can come back to the trail; you'll probably have to. But sometimes we just need a different view of our lives so they don't seem quite so insurmountable. And if we spend a little time in God's presence and allow Him to direct our gaze, we'll get a much better view of the situation. In fact, we'll get more than just a good view; we'll get perspective.