Switchbacks

Switchbacks

“I feel like I’ve turned the corner.”

That’s a common phrase. I think most of us have probably said it at some point in time. It means that we feel like things are going to get better. We’ve gotten over the hump. A rough season is behind us.You know what makes a literal mockery out of that statement? Climbing out of the Grand Canyon.

You see, there are no elevators or escalators in the Grand Canyon and stairs only make cameo appearances. That’s an obvious statement, but you don’t truly appreciate the gravity of this situation until you realize that you must climb thousands of feet without any of those luxuries.
The steepest climbs are accomplished by switchbacks. These trails wind back and forth up the canyon walls. When you get to the top of one arduous portion, you turn the corner… and then you’re facing another climb. Turning the corner when you climb out of the Grand Canyon does mean that you’re getting somewhere, but it does not necessarily mean things are going to get any easier. Why would it? You’re still climbing.

The beginning of a new year is a time in which many of us decide that we’re going to turn the corner. Even though we can just as easily start new chapters of our lives on a random Tuesday in February or Arbor Day, the turning of the calendar is an easy signpost for change. This year is going to be better than the last. This year I’m going to get my crap together.

Yet our reality is closer to a switchback. We turn the corner on a new year and it’s still an uphill climb. There is still difficult terrain ahead. There are still rocks over which you can stumble. The sun is still going to beat down upon you. There may be moments when you feel like you can’t take another step.

Here’s the good news. Hiking the Grand Canyon was one of the coolest adventures on which I have ever been. E.A. and I are going to do it again with our kids when they are old enough (and can carry things for us). And even though climbing out was a struggle to the very end, each corner turned meant something. Though the path was incredibly demanding, there were new vistas. The scenery below us was majestic. Beautiful. Breathtaking. We kept climbing higher and higher and were stunned by how far we had come.

My prayer is that you have a similar experience in 2018. I hope that when you turn a thousand corners and still find brutally steep paths that you will keep climbing. I hope you will realize that despite the difficulties you are getting somewhere. I hope you seek God and a life that radiates love, grace, and peace to all those you encounter. I pray that you will see amazing things and at the end you’ll be stunned by how far you have come; how far you have been brought.

Don’t be discouraged by the switchbacks. It’s simply part of life. Take time to rest. Leave behind whatever is weighing you down. Tackle the trail with worthwhile companions. And keep climbing.

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