Sunday, March 24, 2013

4:30am Perimeter Hike with LIFT

    4:oo am came pretty quickly yesterday. Suzy had to push me to turn off the alarm... I had already incorporated the sound of the static coming from my alarm clock into my dream. I got up, packed my things, and walked the 8 minutes from our house to El Refugio.

     What was I doing up this early, you ask? On March 11th a group of 30+ came from Camp-of-the-WOODS in Speculator, NY. This group is mainly comprised of 18 - 26 year olds who have set aside a semester or at times 2 to be a part of their LIFT program. LIFT combines Biblical training, camp ministry experience, missions training and exposure, and outdoor adventure. These guys go canoeing, backpacking, and do some serious hikes and climbing. Just today they left to go summit a mountain here in Ecuador. So, I got up that early yesterday to do the perimeter hike with them here on El Refugio's property. I would venture to say that this hike is the most difficult one that we have to offer within our property.

     It was a rough hike. I've acclimated really well to the altitude here, but in truth, I haven't done any really long or strenuous hikes since being here. Nor have I gotten up that early in... years, probably.

     But I tell you what, the spiritual picture that I experienced and envisioned while on that hike was powerful. The majority of those hiking were wearing head-lamps, as the sun had not come up yet. The first 15 minutes was an uphill incline, but not terrible. The following 45 minutes - hour was straight up the mountainside, and very steep. There were people in front of me. There were people behind me. I stopped a few times briefly to catch my breath, have some water, and view the stars, lights of Calacalí, and the lights moving further away from me and approaching me.

     This was the thing that struck me the most. I was a part of this line of lights-- from the head-lamps. You could clearly make out this line of little lights bopping up and down, highlighting the flow of the path we were hiking. It was cool to see all of these lights; in front of me, showing the path I was about to walk, and behind me, seeing where I've just come from. And there were so many lights! There was probably just under 50 of us doing this hike. As I stopped, people would pass by me. I would hear them encouraging one another, laughing together, and on more than one occasion someone passing would offer some of their water.

     So here's my picture. This is the body of Christ. We are all walking on this path... little lights for Christ, hiking a difficult path in a dark world. We're taking this narrow path towards the summit. We're tired at times, alone at times; but we're not alone. There are many others walking the path and they are happy-- they're filled with joy as they walk towards the goal, offering help and encouragement to their brothers and sisters. Though it's tiring, it's worth it. Our bodies actually like the exercise, and the view at the top, the reward-- it's totally worth it.

     It was a cloudy morning and we were in the mountains, so we didn't get a really crisp, defined, or colorful sunrise. But the view was awesome. And I will certainly be doing the hike again.

     Ask yourself this today: Who do I know that needs that extra word of encouragement today? Who is in need of water or is sitting down because they're so tired? How can we laugh with, encourage, or be there for someone else who is walking on this path with us?

The view from the top: The town of Calacalí

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