A few summers ago we took our first big national park trip from Texas to California. We couldn’t wait to experience Yosemite and we were so taken with this park that we came back a second time after going through Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Zion. More on that over here.
As we read through the trail options on the website, we wanted to be sure to choose a trail that would give us the best views of the park while doing the least amount of hiking. Ha!
When Bry read the full description of the “4 Mile Trail”, it seemed easy enough. [Note: I don’t recall him reading the part about it being a “strenuous” hike, but we keep no record of wrongs over here. I forgive you, babe.]
One option for this trail is to walk up the whole mountain, then down the whole mountain. Errrr, no thanks.
The second option was to take a shuttle to the top and then walk down to the bottom. Yes, please!
You just walk down the mountain.
I could do that. (I thought as I pretentiously rolled my eyes at all of the naysayers who thought this would be an impossible task for an out-of-shape mid-thirties hot mess with bad knees, no less.)
We bought two shuttle tickets and headed up the mountain to Glacier Point. Our tour guide was informative and slightly immature, my favorite combination. A few of the passengers seemed annoyed by his sense of humor, but I was all about it.
From the top, we could see valleys, breathtaking mountains, water falls in every direction, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
I took a minute to take in the views and considered what it would’ve been like to be the first person to see this.
How could you even put it into words? What would you tell people when you tried to describe it? Even the photos don’t do it justice! And John Muir definitely didn’t have the technology we do today, so how did he even find the words to express just how incredible this view was?
We had arrived. And it was beautiful at the top.
I could go on and on and tell you how it took me around seven hours to do what should have taken three. I could tell you about all of the people who chose option one and walked up the mountain, then walked down before me. I could tell you how I had to stop every 30 seconds because my knees were screaming at me and begging me to stop.moving. I could go on about all of the snacks I had to eat to make it through, hour by hour. I could, but I won’t bore you with those details.
Instead, I’ll tell you what it felt like to arrive at the bottom - having dropped 3200 feet and walked 4.8 miles (they call it the 4 mile trail, but it’s closer to 5!)
We had arrived. And it was even more beautiful at the bottom.
The bad news was that it took us so long to get down cause bad knees that all of the shuttles were done for the day! This meant that we had to walk another mile just to get to the car. At this point I just wanted to crawl in a hole and cry for three days.
But, we did it. After a few minutes of intense discussion (aka arguing) and a snack for me, we got up and put one foot in front of the other and eventually, we made it to the car.
We had arrived. And it was the beautifulest in the parking lot.
There’s something spectacular about arriving. The hope of newness, change, revival.
As we enter the season of Advent, I’m anticipating the joy and hope that comes along with Christmas. The Latin for advent literally means to arrive or to come. It’s the great expectation for something extremely important.
John may have understood advent better than any of us. He anticipated the arrival of Jesus in ways few could comprehend. (Matthew 3)
He pleaded with people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was near. I imagine they must’ve thought he was a little crazy. They were going on about their lives, oblivious to how close the coming of the Messiah truly was. They didn’t understand the urgency in John’s voice. Still, many of them were obedient and came to him to be baptized, openly sharing their sins aloud as they were baptized in the Jordan River.
Then, he saw Jesus. The one he’d been waiting for.
He’d finally arrived.
After baptizing Jesus and raising him out of the water, John saw for himself heaven open up and the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus in the form of a dove. He heard the voice of the Father SHOUT from the sky, proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
How could he even put this into words? How would he describe this event? I can only imagine what it must have been like to witness this spectacular, holy moment. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all in the same place at the same time!
And yet, just a few chapters later, we read that John began to doubt if Jesus truly was the one who was to come, or if they should expect someone else. Even after witnessing one of the most powerful moments in the history of ever, John was still human and he still had doubts. And he wasn’t alone. There’s story after story from Genesis—>Revelation with people, just like you and me, who have real doubts, real questions, real conflicting feelings. More on that in a later post. :)
Jesus could’ve shook his finger at him, rolled his eyes, and asked if he was really that foolish. He could’ve asked if John was even there the day the Father made it as clear as day that Jesus was the one they’d waited for.
But, he didn’t.
Instead, he honored and respected John. He declared that there’s never been anyone born of a woman who is greater than John the Baptist. Jesus called John the “Elijah” who was to come - in other words, the most important prophet who would announce the coming of Jesus himself. Jesus begs people to listen to his words, even today. When Jesus says something like this, we should listen closely.
And then, a few short chapters later, John is beheaded.
Jesus found a private place where he could grieve the loss of his friend, the one who baptized him. The one who paved the way for his own ministry.
The One we waited for desired just a few minutes of peace to be alone with His Father.
But, the people needed him. They searched for him, followed him, would not let him rest. And he had such compassion for them. He continued healing, serving, and loving them.
He had arrived. And He was even more extraordinary than anyone was prepared for.
Come, Jesus. Come.