“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 10:39-11:1
Our family’s trip to Maui last week was incredible. The beauty of the island was all that I imagined and more. One day when the boys were playing golf, the girls drove to another part of the island, and I know they probably got tired of me saying, “Oh that water is just gorgeous!” over and over again. But I couldn’t help it. It WAS gorgeous! I could hardly take my eyes off of it. Each day was filled with ridiculously beautiful views. We even kayaked out to sea and snorkeled with huge sea turtles and beautiful exotic fish. But nothing compared to our very first adventure at the beginning of the week.
After Reed told a friend of his that we were going on this trip, his friend told him about a remote waterfall that not even very many locals know about, but we would have to hike about half a mile to get to it. When he showed us a picture, we all quickly agreed we wanted to see it. Half a mile? Please! That’s nothing. We hiked The Narrows last year!
After driving about an hour to where Reed’s friend dropped the pin, we parked on the side of the road and found the river bed. It was dry. Hmm. Reed said this was it, so we all started walking. Now, when I think of a river bed, I think of dry ground, maybe some rocks and moisture along the way. Wrong. Here is a picture of the river bed. That’s Mia and Brighton on the far left of the picture.
That’s what we had to “hike” for only half a mile. Some of the boulders were taller than me, and there was absolutely no path. It was all boulders. After almost a half an hour in, we finally came to water. Very little water. Now, I’m no genius, but if there is a waterfall, hundreds of feet high, only half a mile away, shouldn’t there be water? Lots and lots of water? We were all having our doubts, especially Reed. It wasn’t just the lack of water that was questionable. Jase and I are not spring chickens anymore, you know? And on this hike, it showed. We brought all the right gear including the correct shoes for this type of terrain. It was our bodies that were giving out. The longer we hiked, the more spread out we all became. Reed was always in the front, usually followed directly behind by Mia, then Brighton, Cole and Sierra. You guessed it: Jase and then I brought up the rear. Going in, Jase took a tumble. His foot went one way, his knee and hip went another, and he went down. He was sore, but he kept going.
Little by little, we made our way. After an hour and a half, just about the time I thought this was going to be a huge disappointment, that either the friend told us the wrong location or that the waterfall was dry due to the recent lack of rain, Jase called out (somehow he had gotten to the front with Mia), “I see it! It’s right around the corner!” Brighton and I started jumping up and down. Carefully, of course. We made it! I couldn’t get over those next few boulders quickly enough to see what we had worked so hard to get to. And there it was. Majestic. Grandiose. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever laid my eyes upon. Rounding that canyon, there was no where to go. The caves and walls completely encased us. The canyon rose to at least 250 feet, and the water poured down into a large, chilling pool of iridescent green water. I’ve seen pictures before, you know, of places like this on the internet and in magazines, but I’ve never seen something that magnificent up close and personal. It was breathtaking.
No one moved for a few seconds, just taking it all in. Then we started moving quickly towards it. We wanted to be a part of it! Then all of the sudden, Jase turned around to the rest of us and motioned us to stop. What? What could possibly be wrong? We gathered closer to hear him say, “There’s two people there, and they don’t have any clothes on.”
Somehow, Mia had gotten in front of Jase and was the first to see it. (Parents of the Year award right here, please.) When I looked at her, her eyes were wide, and she was making a motion with her hand going back and forth across her throat as if to say, “abort! abort!”
When I looked again, I saw the girl and said to Jase, “I can see her. She’s wearing a swimsuit,” to Jase’s reply, “HE’S not.”
One more glance told me more than I needed to know. Ew, I can’t unsee that, you know.
Well, what do we do? We gathered up and had a family meeting. Do we go back? Do we ask him to put his clothes on? He definitely sees us, and he’s not making any moves toward his shorts! We’ve come all this way! These were just some of the comments said in our discussion. About the time we had decided we weren’t going back without getting to that waterfall with strict instructions for Mia to face the wall until we can get past them, he slowly put his swimsuit on. Whew! We weren’t planning on sharing this experience with anyone, especially naked anyones, but we weren’t going to let them spoil this experience. It was a bit awkward, so Jase broke the silence.
“Hey, man, sorry to crash your party.”
“No worries, dude, just trying to be one with the sacred land.”
To our delight, they left rather quickly after that, and we had that “sacred land” all to ourselves. We dove right in, literally. It was very deep and very cold, but we all dove in and swam to, around, under and through the waterfall. It was an amazing experience, and I’m so thrilled that we got to do it together as a family. And I just kept thinking, “What a payoff!” We ate the sandwiches we’d packed that morning and took lots and lots of pictures. It was wonderful. Then we had to head back.
(Mia admiring the beauty)
Honestly, once we started back over those same boulders, carefully making each step, knowing how long we had to do this to get back to the car, I started to get weary. I thought the adrenaline rush from being at the waterfall would carry me through, but that only lasted so long. I took a tumble myself after a rock moved under my feet and I lost my balance. I scraped up my knee pretty badly and ended up with quite a few bruises. Reed, who reminded me of the hare in the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” would get way out in front and then sit on a boulder and wait for the rest of us. He did this two or three times until my fall. He ran back to me and said, “Mom, how can I help you?” I told him all I needed was for someone to go right in front of me and show me where to step. That was it. If I could see someone else make a safe step, I would know I could do it, too. So that’s what Reed did. He was patient and kept looking back at me to make sure I was staying out of trouble. He did this all the way back until we got to the car.
During that hike back, I started thinking about hope. Reed had faith in his friend’s directions because his friend had been in that same spot before. I had faith in Reed because he was so sure in his friend. And I wanted it so badly. I wanted to see that waterfall. So I followed. One slow step at a time. If I would have taken my eyes off that trail, or if I would have forgotten about that waterfall that I had just seen and been a part of, or if I would have let that one unexpected distraction sideline my perfect view of fulfilled hope, it would have been inevitable that I would have failed. But if I could see Reed so sure of his steps up ahead and especially if I watched him take each step right before mine, I could do it. No problem.
The above verse tells us that if we don’t shrink back and believe, we will be saved. That our faith comes from our assurance in something we can’t even see. Right before that, the Hebrew writer says in verse 36,
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Persevere. That’s definitely what I was doing. Reed’s friend promised that waterfall was there. I had faith, even though I hadn’t seen it.
I don’t know about you, but I have never seen eternal life. I’ve never seen heaven. I’ve never seen a life without pain or disappointment. But God promises us that it is there if we persevere, don’t shrink back, believe! We will be saved!
What is difficult for you may be easier for someone else. Ask them to help guide you. Climbing through that rock bed was difficult for me, but it wasn’t even a challenge for Reed. Without his help, it could have been disastrous for me. We were on that journey together, and we wanted to share in that momentous experience of joy and beauty together.
It was definitely worth it. However, about half-way back, while during one of our rests, I told the kids they better remember their dad and me against this backdrop because we will never be back here again!
I won’t miss this life when I get to heaven, to the promise! Will you?
Have a delightful week!