The Guffy Campground trail in the San Bernardino Mountains above Los Angeles has become one of my favorite Sabbath hike destinations. At around 8000 feet, it provides cooler weather in the summer than I can find here in the lowlands. And the Grizzly Café in nearby Wrightwood offers an amazing sandwich for my post-hike meal – turkey, avocado, cheese and bacon on grilled sourdough garlic bread. Yeah, I tend to finish my mountain hikes at the Grizzly! (No, the owners didn’t pay me for that plug – yet).
This stretch is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which extends from Mexico to Canada, covering over 2,600 miles and ranging in elevation from sea level to over 13,000 feet (thanks, Wikipedia!). It’s an impressive trail, and I like to contemplate its significance as I hike. It feels good to know that, for those few hours, I’m part of something so much bigger than I can see at a glance.
I will probably never see the beginning or the end of the PCT, and that’s OK with me. I want to focus on the few miles between Inspiration Point and Guffy campground. It comprises only around .001% of the whole trail, but it matters to me.
I want to get maximum benefit out my time there. I love to gaze at the towering pine trees, revel in the cool breeze, catch my breath at the views of the desert and the ocean, smile at the occasional encounter with wildlife. I try not to miss anything on the trail, and I always come away refreshed and rejuvenated by the experience.
I also want to leave it better than I found it. I make a point on all of my hikes to try to come out with at least one piece of trash that I didn’t bring in. At Guffy campground last week, I came across a scattering of litter that happily included a plastic trash bag, which came in handy as I cleaned up. There’s something satisfying about improving such a beautiful place.
My approach to my walks in the mountains are similar to the way I view my involvement in the mission of God. Let me explain what I mean.
God’s plan for the world extends from creation to eternity. By volunteering to invest in it, I am part of something that is much bigger than I can see at a glance. I wasn’t there when it began, and I don’t expect to live until it arrives at its destination. That’s OK with me – my years are small compared to the entire project, but like the few miles of the trail, they are the ones that matter to me.
I want to get maximum benefit out of my limited time. I love to see the light go on in someone’s eyes as God’s love sinks in. Nothing compares to the look of joy on the face of a new Christ-follower who begins to grasp the extent of God’s forgiveness. The sense of celebration at a baptism is priceless. I absolutely LOVE seeing God at work, here at home and around the world, and I hope it never becomes routine.
I also want to do what I can to contribute to the beauty of God’s mission. All Christ-followers have the ability to commend Him to others, and sadly, we also have the ability to do the opposite. The “litter” of our lives can cause others to question just how great He is. On the other hand, as Titus 2:10 indicates, it is also possible for us to “adorn the doctrine of God.” It blows my mind to realize that my actions and attitudes can take what is true about God and render it even more beautiful, more attractive, more compelling, as others see Him at work in my life. This is a thought that ought to inspire me more than it sometimes does.
My life is short, and my role is small compared to God’s big picture. But they are all I have. I don’t want to waste them, I want to invest them. I invite you to join me.
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