My aunt and I recently took my children on a hiking adventure to a place she had taken me when I was young. Though my kids were being great sports, I could tell they were a bit skeptical. After all, they had been dragged out of bed very early on a summer morning, made to shovel in their breakfast, crammed in a car, and driven an hour down the road. Why? To walk. A lot. Up a mountain. But my aunt and I knew something that they didn’t. We knew what was at the top.
As we started up the trail, there were bugs—the kind that always seem most attracted to your eyes and nostrils. It was muggy, and it didn’t take long before we were covered in sweat. There were rocks along the path that threatened to trip us up or roll an ankle, and mud holes from recent heavy rains that left nothing but a narrow place for our feet. I found myself repeating to the children, “Watch your step. Look out for the rocks. But keep going—it will be worth it at the top.”
At times a refreshing breeze would blow, and the sun would hit the foliage just right—turning it into a thousand shades of vibrant green. The birds would sing their songs with renewed spirit, and we would rest and take it all in. But after a minute or two, my aunt would say, “Time to keep going—we’ve got farther to go.”
Soon the path changed. We were next to the water now. I had prepared my children for a time when they would get to play in the water—it was this thought that had kept them going up the side of the mountain. My boys saw it and immediately began taking off their packs and removing shoes. My aunt and I just smiled. “This isn’t it,” I said. My aunt chimed in—“We can stay here if you really want to, but the best is up ahead.” So, they tied their shoes, grabbed their packs, and climbed the rocks once more.
And then it happened. We rounded the bend. We could hear its thunderous roar before we ever laid eyes on it, but there it was. The waterfall at the top of the mountain. The look in the eyes of my children brought sheer joy to my heart. This was beyond what they had ever expected—bigger than they knew to even imagine. “I told you it would be worth it.”
Our lives on this earth are much like that mountain climb. The way is difficult—with rocks that trip us up and cause us pain. We grow weary and long for rest. Along the way we have times of pleasure, but we must not linger too long or hold too tightly. These places only preview what lies at the top. And when we round that bend and behold our glorious Savior—we will discover, as my children did that day on the mountain, that HE is worth it all. Every pain, every sorrow, every difficulty, every loneliness. He is worthy. And somehow, it will be made even more glorious for the way having been so hard. I wonder if my Lord will look at me and smile, as I did with my children, and say, “I told you it would be worth it.”
“That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backward and turn even that agony into a glory.” — C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new…’
He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 21:4-5; 22:20