As I shared, climbing Mount Misery was torturous. But I was so excited, anticipating what it would be like to see into the center of a volcano with my own two eyes.
The path narrowed as we got closer to the top. I imagined that once we got there we would be able to walk around, take in the beauty, and rest there a bit. I looked forward to praying at the top of this grand volcanic mountain and enjoying the wonder of it all.
As we neared the top, it was so narrow we had to walk in a single file line. The trees lined both sides of the path. We were at the back of the group.
Why were we stopped? I felt a bit impatient with the excitement of being so close to my vision becoming reality, so I finally passed a kind question to the front of the line. “Hey, is everyone ok? Why aren’t we moving?”
The answer shocked me! “We are at the top. There is limited room for each person to get their picture. Everyone will get their turn.”
What! I tried to get a glimpse through the trees. When it was our turn, we climbed up, and then down, a treacherous rock formation.
We came to a landing that was about 5 foot by 5 foot. The guide was there to make sure nobody went too far, because it would be a straight fall leading to death.
Once my family squeezed in and shuffled very tightly to sit up against the backdrop of rocks to get our picture taken, we were finally able to see what we came for.
The mouth of the volcano was very wide. Its diameter was huge and completely filled in with greenery and foliage. The sky was a brilliant blue with clouds that looked like cotton balls.
I had just enough time at the top for a peek. In less than sixty seconds, I found myself walking back to let others take their turn. Trying to see through the trees, I noticed what looked like two mud ponds. These ponds were boiling hot. Death came to anyone or anything that went in them.
And just like that, we began our descent. I had just spent three hours climbing the hardest mountain I had ever climbed, spent less than five minutes at the top for a quick peek, only to turn around and climb straight back down this treacherous beast with no breaks for two more hours. Can you imagine my disappointment? How unfair!
In all honesty, if you told me that I would climb a volcano named Mount Misery (so named for many reasons) for three straight, torturous hours, that it would be the hardest, most challenging thing I had ever done, that I might fear passing out on the way, all to spend only five minutes at the top, just enough for a peek, and then turn around and spend two more painful hours on the way down with no breaks, do you think I would have said yes?
Let me think. Spend almost six hours torturing myself for five minutes of pleasure? I would have said no. Absolutely not.
God and I have a history of meeting in a special way at the top of many mountains, and I expected this time to be no different. I anticipated spending time in prayer and seeking God as I took in the amazing view at the top of the volcano. Instead, my revelation came during my climb back down.
He showed me some things as I struggled to understand what had just happened.
This is what He spoke, fulfilling our visions and dreams isn't about the victory of completing the goal, it's about the journey. If we rest on our victory, we will never be moved to our next dream. Instead, we will stay stuck on an accomplishment that really is nothing more than a fleeting moment in time. It is all about the journey getting there.
Friends, so many of us are waiting to finally “get to the top” of something in our lives. Some of us spend years upon years working to fulfill our dreams and visions. Once they get there, many people find their dreams have died of disappointment, unmet expectations, or exhaustion—and it may not have been as fulfilling as they thought. This can lead to a mindset that refuses to do anything anymore. They totally miss out on the joy of the journey.
Our journey is the most precious part of our vision and dreams. We take it moment by moment, day by day, season by season because that is where our memories are made. That is where we develop patience, endurance, desire, and persistence.
We are all in training for something. The journey prepares us, builds us, and launches us for our next dream and vision.
I am 50 years old. I am now contemplating how many things in my life I have said no to because it seemed too hard, with little to no reward—an investment of precious time that I thought could be spent wisely elsewhere.
Here is what I was reminded of. God is with me on my journey from start to finish. All too often, we wait until we reach the finish line and claim victory to thank God. We forget to thank Him while we are journeying to our destination.
I was not thanking God on the way up. Oh no, I was thinking what in the world did I do to myself! I was so focused on my footing and the obstacles in my path on the way up, with shortness of breath and don't forget my burning thighs, I barely glimpsed the beauty around me. Once I reached the top, I was deflated because reality did not meet my expectations.
Do you hear what I’m saying? Friends, enjoy your journey! Work hard, stay focused, but take in everything around you.
God is our ultimate life guide. Be in constant communication with Him. Trust and know that God is always with you, guiding you and preparing you.
Life is a journey. It can be hard and challenging, it truly can be unfair, but we don’t stop. It is never about the vision, dream, or unmet expectation. It is about the journey.
Years ago, when my bosom buddy and I were driving down the highway, we saw When Dreams End written in pink on the back of an old beat up brown 18-wheeler cab.
We contemplated this for awhile. What could it mean? Our dreams were just beginning to unfold.
I’ve wondered about this from time to time. Today, ten years later, I think I finally understand.
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