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At the Trailhead of Wow

by DanWolgemuth on July 28, 2017

“A life-changing hike…”

Those are the exact words extracted from the “National Parks of America” book that I gave to Mary for Christmas. The words wrap around the description of the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park in Montana. They are part of an invitation to drive on the breathtaking “Going to the Sun” Road to a perpetually full parking lot at Logan Pass. From Logan Pass you discover the Highline Trail trailhead… and the adventure begins.

Within the first quarter of a mile of the hike, I was clinging to embedded cables that the national park system has compassionately installed along a sheer edge on the hike. This was short lived and soon my pulse allowed me to take in the awe-inspiring views that surrounded us. Both near and far.

Wild mountain flowers showed off in a display of color, persistence, beauty and creativity. Waterfalls danced around us as the melting snow and ice provided ample resource over the rugged terrain. And then, without exception, the panoramic views were beyond description.

Repeatedly the word “Wow” tumbled from my lips as though coming from my soul. Just “Wow.”

It was a traverse across the mountain with the destination of Awe. I was spellbound.

With every step in my hiking boots I was progressing toward an increasing understanding of the grandeur of God. More significantly, I found that every footprint in the dust, and every dry rock across a cascading waterfall calibrated my size.

On the Highline Trail… I felt small. Little more than a dot with a pulse and a backpack.

It was a good small. An important small… because it was small derived from the context of glory and beauty. A small conceived not from an artificial self-deprecating perspective but because of the unimaginable size and beauty that surrounded me.

Thousands of mountain plants showed off around me. Incredible sizes, shapes and colors exploded. Just because.

Rocks and cliffs towered.

And for 10 and a half miles… the very best that I could do was, “Wow.”

Near the conclusion of our 10 and a half mile hike, the lesson of the day became clearer. Any life experience, any hike, any mountain range, any breathtaking view… any difficult experience, any unexplainable situation, anything that shines a light on the scale and significance of God is a very good thing. It’s the right thing.

God is massive. He’s huge and awe inspiring and beyond comprehension or description. And I’m small. Really, really small. Not unimportant or insignificant, but small.

A world view that has me at the center will make everything around me miniature. If my world revolves around me, then a single orbit will be a fraction of a second. But that’s often what the gravity of my soul tugs me toward. Make much of me. It’s all about me…

What a shame.

In the world that revolves around me, I can’t seem to grow a basil plant in a pile of enriched garden soil in my backyard, but God… He can grow an alpine pine tree out of a crack in a granite rock at 8,000 feet. And He can create a painter’s palette out of a harsh meadow with wind and rain and cold and rocks, just to show it off for a few weeks a summer. He can. I can’t.

I am a very, very small fish in a very, very grand and glorious and beautiful pond. But I am alive in the pond… loving and growing and flourishing because I embrace the immensity of the God who gives me life.

But many, including me at times, choose to be a big fish in a very, very small pond. My pond. A stagnant and lifeless pond. A pond that I’m convinced I can manage and control. A tragic ruse of a sinful soul.

So here you have it.

God is big. And I am small.

Any and every experience in my life that shines a light on the vastness of God is a good thing. And any and every experience in my life that rightly calibrates my own humble stature is also a good thing. A right perspective of God will always create a posture of humility and gratitude and awe in me.

And yet, in the context of this reality, His love for me is magnified. Glacier National Park is not His masterpiece… we are. Our big, massive, awesome, omnipotent God loves us.

Us. You and me.

This is my Highline Trail perspective. My ah-ha moment. My epiphany.

Anything short of this reduces my capacity for joy, celebration, and awe to a fraction of what it was designed to be.

“Life changing” indeed.

The sign in the parking lot at Logan Pass said, “Highline Trail,” but make no mistake; it was a Trailhead to Wow.

Awe inspired.

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