I spent my morning at Shanty Hollow Lake, north of Bowling Green, where I currently live. Okay, in all honesty, I spent about an hour there. Several of my friends had gone there prior to the school year ending, so I wanted to check it out. My plan was to go there and spend the whole day in my hammock reading.
Upon arriving there, I wanted to find a waterfall that I had seen my friends post pictures of on Facebook, so I set off down the hiking trail. I’ll bet I hiked a mile and never found it. I did hang my hammock up once, but it was a little embarrassing trying to hang in it there, because it was shaped like the Gateway arch in St. Louis upside-down.
I love to hike, but the hike today was a struggle. I turned my ankle a couple of times on tree roots, constantly had what seemed like 100 gnats flying around my head, and didn’t even get to finish the hike. I eventually came to a creek that I would estimate was 2-3 feet deep. There was a tree laying across the creek that you could walk across to the other side and continue on the trail, however, I didn’t. I probably could have made it across the log just fine, but I had my backpack on as well as several valuables in my pockets (wallet, cell phone, etc.) that I couldn’t risk getting damaged if I had happened to fall into the creek.
Despite all the failed adventures, the trip was not a waste.
Either God used the event for his glory after the failures, or he sent me to Shanty Hollow just to teach me this lesson, but in going there, I was greatly reminded of the sanctification process. If you don’t know what sanctification is, it is what happens to the Christian as they steadfastly follow after Jesus. They are made more like Jesus. Sanctification will continue in the Christian’s walk until death or the return of Jesus (whichever comes first). At that point, God will complete his work in the Christian’s life. (Philippians 1:6)
As I walked down the trail, having no idea where I was going, I had my mind-set on finding that waterfall. As I walked down the trail, I came upon many narrow side trails that peaked my interest, so I went down them. They always ran into a dead-end, so I had to turn back and get back on the main trail. As I walked, there were several times that I turned my ankle, tripped, and stumbled. I even slipped down a hill once and landed on my butt. Flies and gnats were bugging me to death (pun intended). But the whole time, I was set on getting to this waterfall, which I assumed was at the end of the trail.
Surely, you see where I am going with this story.
If you are a Christian, there was a time when you responded to the call of Jesus: “Come, follow me.” If you responded correctly, at that moment, your sins were forgiven, past, present, and future, and you began a lifelong journey with Jesus of following him wherever he leads. However, you don’t have to follow Jesus very long to realize that it’s a hard journey. There are times that gnats fly around your eyes and ears. There are times that you go down the wrong trail and have to come back. There are times you turn your ankle and fall down a hill. And not every place you hang your hammock is going to work.
But what is at the end of the trail? A waterfall. Not of water, but of Jesus. When God finishes the work in each Christian at the second coming of Jesus, Jesus will be our present treasure forever and ever. He will be our God and we shall be his people. A never-ending waterfall of joy and satisfaction with Jesus. We can enjoy him now, but not in the way we will be able to after sanctification is complete.
Right now, we are on a hard journey. There are struggles. There are things that want to annoy us. There are trails we will be tempted to wander off on. But we must fix our eyes on the waterfall and go after it with everything we have. When we do fall, God’s grace in the cross of Christ will catch us and help us back up.
But don’t be that “Christian” who is still at the beginning of the trail sitting on a rock. (Or at any part of the trail for that matter) Get up and go hiking.
If you aren’t a Christian, then get out of your car in the Shanty Hollow parking lot, put your backpack on, and set out on the trail toward the waterfall. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Will you?