As I stated in my last blog, I was recently on a trip. On the way back one of the stops was Sequoia National Park. Had never been, and seeing those trees seemed like a must.
Mt. Whitney, located in King's Canyon National Park, is the highest peak in the lower 48. Sequoia and King's Canyon are essentially combined. This should give you an idea of the elevation of the area. In mid-March this also means quite a bit of snow. It may have been spring at the conference, but it was definitely still winter up in the mountains!
I'm a sucker for mountain lakes, they may be my favorite thing in nature. And there was a hike of a reasonable distance that led to a lake. Snow or not I was going to make an attempt!
The hike was rather treacherous, and had a lot of snow still on the trail. Once I got to a major fork in the hike, the trail became indistinguishable from the rest of the forest. It was just snow, with a few (very few) markers on the trees. But I kept pushing on, ill prepared. But hey, ya live and learn.
Suffice it to say I quit along a very steep and disorienting section. I should've made that decision earlier.
Coming back wasn't too bad at first, but then the markers stopped, and so did any semblance of a definitive trail. Sure, there were cross country skier trails and snowshoe ones. Some others were formed by people like me who made the mistake of thinking crampons would be enough. But the way home? Couldn't tell. Shortly after I ended up getting completely lost and doing exactly what you don't do when you're lost. I kept going.
The problem at this point wasn't so much being lost, it was my strength. I got rather sick last year, and I haven't recovered completely. Add to that (ok probably the primary reason) I've not kept myself in the best of shape, and I had little energy to go back up. I had a vague GPS signal on my phone, I figured I'll chart a straight line down the hill, should get there... eventually. Thankfully, I did, after some fun sledding down hills.
I may have found the trail, but it wasn't a short hike, and my already worn out self was getting very fatigued. I sort of threw up at one point.
So why am I sharing all this? To make myself sound dumb? I dunno, I do self-deprecate a lot. But it's this one thought I had while on the trail that is one of the most convicting thoughts I've had.
I will say, I am not trying to compare my little outing here with the terrifying survival stories of others. It's amazing what some people have had to go through. I am incredibly thankful that I wasn't in anywhere near as bad a predicament as I could've been.
As horrible as I felt, the thought that came into my mind was more or less: "I deserve to feel like this and worse for eternity."
It was convicting because it was true. For a brief moment I realized my depravity apart from Christ. I realized the consequence it deserves: eternal hell. God's wrath is a very real thing, and it directly at me until He saved me.
What grace it is that I was able to get out that night without having to spend the night in the frigid cold. That was a possibility that was gaining potential as it grew dark and I still had quite a ways to go.
As horrible as I felt..... "I deserve to feel like this and worse for eternity."
But what more grace it is that God would spare me, and any who place faith in Jesus Christ. I know we don't want to think of ourselves as deserving horrible things. But the reality is, apart from Jesus' saving work we do.
And let's face it, my puny "survival" experience isn't even worth mentioning in relation to what Jesus suffered upon that cross. Yes, a horrible physical torture, but more than that He drank down the cup of God's wrath. What amazing grace, that God would look on me and see the righteousness of His Son, and not the filthy rags of who I am apart from Him.
So yeah, seems like a deep thought to be having while hiking. And on a side note, I could see through the trees it was an excellent sunset. That would've been a nice photo! But had I not quit, I'd likely be a permanent frozen fixture up there in the mountains.
Exaggerating my experience? Eh, actually no. Exaggerating the grace of God? Not even coming close to the foothills of how awesome His grace is.
Are you trusting in your own goodness to get you into heaven? You'll be sorely disappointed. But Jesus offers eternal life. Repent and trust in Him today. He will never disappoint you!