One-Way Journey

Wednesday finally provided a break in the cold, rainy weather we've had here in the upstate of South Carolina.  After being cooped up in the house for so many days at a time, I think the dogs and I were about to go stir-crazy.  Fortunately, the Lord worked it out to where Jason could have the day off, so we packed up the gear, hoisted the dogs into the back of our new Xterra, and headed toward Pickens County to hike to Virginia Hawkins Falls.

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.  The temperature was perfect.  The sun shone brightly, and a gentle breeze provided just the right amount of crispness to the air.  Being the middle of the week, the trail was deserted, so we had the entire place to ourselves.  The dogs were thrilled to be out, and I was thankful to be able to enjoy such a beautiful day with my family.

We had hiked this particular trail before, but I had forgotten that it begins with a steady uphill climb and then later descends and descends and descends.  Because of the steep descent in several areas, wooden blocks have been staked to the ground, providing narrow and uneven steps. 

After all the previous days of cold rain, my knees were already aching with arthritis.  Still, I thought some exercise would do them good.  After the hundredth step, I wasn't so sure.  To make it worse, I kept thinking, "You know, once we get to the falls, we're going to have to turn around and go back up all these steps we've just come down."  That thought had me groaning almost as much as my knees.

But when I reached the falls, all other thoughts were forgotten.  The steps weren't even a memory.  The pain in my knees seemed non-existent.  In the presence of such beauty, my mind couldn't comprehend anything else.  The toils of the journey were forgotten.

We sat at the base of the falls for a little while, and then noting the time, decided to start back.  Jason, who had been smart enough to study the map at the trailhead, pointed to where the trail continued on past the falls and commented, "I think if we continue down the trail, it will take us to a short connector trail that will lead us back to the parking lot.  We can make a loop."

We decided to give it a try.  Boy, am I glad we did!  The trail widened out into an old logging road that sloped up and down gently the entire way back.  The hike back to the Xterra was pleasant and painless.  I was so thankful we didn't have to go back the way we had come.

You know, that's the great thing about life too.  Yes, it has its ups and downs.  Sometimes our steps get weary, and those water crossings get numerous.  But through it all, it helps to keep in mind that we are on a one-way journey, and if we'll pay attention and heed God's direction, we won't have to retrace our steps.  Once we've reached our destination, it will be smooth sailing from then on.  And, as I was at the falls, we will be so awed by the beauty of Heaven and the wonder of our Savior that the toils of the journey will be forgotten.

Whatever trail you're walking today, remember it's a one-way trip.  Keep heading toward your final destination and trust that it will be worth every step.  And smile because it can only get better!