Past the Scenic Outlook

Our family loves the mountains. I grew up going to Colorado almost every summer. We have taken our children back there too, and some of my favorite family memories have taken place in the backdrop of the glorious Rocky Mountains.

One of the activities we enjoy is four-wheeling. My husband and the sons approach four-wheeling very differently than I do. They love to go fast, and their goal is to get to the top. They like every hairpin turn, every steep slope, every river crossing, and every “Are you kidding me— we are going through there” trail. The top is a destination for them, and the ride is a nonstop adventure.

Me… not so much. I like being at the top of the mountain. Getting there is not my favorite. I’m not fast and I don’t want to be. Hairpin turns scare me because I don’t know what is on the other side.

I’m not a huge fan of steep either because, well… it’s scary.

Rivers? What if it’s deeper than it looks and I stall out in the middle of it and then…

More than once, Jim has had to turn around and lead me through those “Are you kidding me—we are going through there” trails because I had absolutely no intention of driving through “that.” (Okay, by “lead” I meant drive my four-wheeler because I’d gotten off and walked.)

I’ve gotten stuck more than once, and no one can figure out why or how. I hear the boys yelling, “Come on, Mom. Just go!”

The high mountain road

When the boys get to the top, there is cheering and celebration. When I get to the top, my hands hurt from having held on to the handlebars so tightly and the rest of my body is sore from my muscles having been flexed with tension since we’d started on the adventure.

What was exhilarating to them was exhausting for me. I like being at the top, not getting there. Those high mountain roads and trails are not for the faint of heart. There is only one way to get there: through.

Through the water. Through the twists and turns. Through the narrow and steep and scary and… through. There is no other way but through if you want to get to “that” place and see the view.

The scenic overlook

There is another road that leads almost to the top. It is paved. Trees have been cut down to make the path straighter. Bridges have been built over the streams and rivers. There are passing lanes for the people to slow down or speed up if they need to. You can even pull off on the side of the road to take a picture from the safety of the “Scenic Outlook.”

This road is easy. It is well traveled. It is predictable. It is safe. It is comfortable. It was designed for anyone who wants to take it.

The problem with this road is that it stops before you actually make it all the way to the top of the mountain.

Sure, there are beautiful views from the “Scenic Outlook,” but they just aren’t the same. You don’t know what you are missing, though, until you muster up the courage to take the high mountain road past what everyone else can see to the beauty that waits for you at the top.

Which road should you take?

Our family is in a situation right now where we can choose to take the paved road or we can power through the incredibly difficult trail to the top.

My husband is committed to the difficult trail because getting there does not scare him. I find myself wanting to take the shortcut on the paved road, where it isn’t so scary, hard, and exhausting. I want the smooth drive to the “scenic outlook” and be content with whatever I can see from there. The high road to the top seems like so much effort, and I am already mentally drained!

I want to send that scathing email. I want to post that “call you out” post. I want to make someone else feel what I have felt—and make their child feel what my child has felt. I want to tell (okay, shout) my side of the story for anyone willing to listen. I want it to be fair and just and right. I want the “scenic outlook.”

I would venture to guess that I am not the only Momma Bear who would like to just go and camp out at that safe spot, surrounded by the people who never consider the high road, and see whose growl is the scariest.

A view from the heights

But, this is the thing: I have been to the top.

I know what it looks like past the scenic outlook where everyone else stops. I know that the journey is long, and hard, and super scary, and full of unexpected twists and turns. I know there are obstacles and rivers, and it’s steep. And sometimes you’re too scared to drive through it so someone has to get in and drive for you.

I know there are abandoned cabins where people either gave up or just stopped for a while to gather the strength to keep going. I know that it is exhausting. I know that sometimes the only person you talk to is Jesus on the way to the top.

And then, when you finally get there, it is breathtaking and humbling.

You never imagined the freedom and peace found at the top. It was worth the weeping and gnashing of teeth to see the unobstructed views of God’s glory and majesty on display.

Sometimes you can even look down and see the people on the paved roads. They can’t touch you now because you are at the top. They will never see what you see—they can’t. Their eyes are blinded to what is easy, safe, and whatever else they are thinking that keeps them from making the climb.

You do not travel alone

Jesus calls me to take the scary road to the top.

He knows that choosing the road to the top is hard for me and he gets it. He knows, too, that I will always choose him when it comes down to it because he has never not been faithful. He knows that when I stop talking and listen, I recognize his voice because I have heard it so many times before.

“Daughter, I am fighting for you. Just be still” (Exodus 14).

The reality is, he created both paths: the easy one that anyone can take and the high mountain trail that requires full reliance on the Trail Maker.

The twists and turns don’t scare him because he sees what is around the bend. The rivers don’t slow him down because he can part them. The steep incline will never be as steep as the one he walked to Calvary.

The rocks in the path? He knows that they will cry out in praise to him at his command.

And when I just can’t take another step because it is just too much, he carries me. He knows what it looks like from the top, and he wants me to see what he sees far beyond the scenic outlook. He asks me to climb to the top of the mountain with him, trusting him to go before me and allowing his glory to be my rear guard.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.