My friend, Scott, wrote today’s WMD.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26)
Please allow me to begin by asking you a question: how often, when you think about your life, do you consider that you are made in the image or likeness of God? Truth be told, I rarely do. I’ve grown fairly content in who I am but in all honesty I don’t think I’ve ever looked in the mirror at myself and felt like I was looking at the face of God. Now, let me ask you another question: when you look at your life and how you live, do you ever think about it being like God? I think anyone who believes in God at all probably has at least once. Most people probably try to act the way they think God wants them to act. Today, I’d like to give you a little different perspective to consider.
Growing up in Salem, SC, I spent a large amount of time outside. As a kid, my two brothers, cousins and many friends and I spent countless hours exploring, fishing, hunting, playing sports, swimming and just about any other activity we could come up with in our young minds. So it’s not like I didn’t already have a love for the outdoors. But almost 3 years ago now, I found a new passion, and along with it I finally found myself as well as inner peace, in hiking. More specifically, in hiking to and seeing waterfalls.
In June of 2013, I went waterfall chasing for the first time. Sure, I’d seen and visited waterfalls before, but it was almost always while fishing. Never had I gone just to witness the beauty of these amazing creations, to hear the sound of the crashing water and feel the cool spray on my skin. After that first time though, I was hooked. Since then, it’s become almost an addiction, and in that time span I’ve visited several hundred. I’ve bought books, searched websites and asked anyone I could think of, searching for the next one I haven’t yet visited. And along the way, I’ve developed a much deeper relationship with God.
I’ve come to see the similarities between the trail in the woods and the path of our lives. How easy it is to get off trail and get lost. How important it is to keep my eyes focused on my destination. I could go on and on, but let’s just say it has become my classroom for God to speak to me and to teach me. This past weekend, class was in session again.
One of the things I’ve come to recognize about myself is a love for finding beauty in the things others often don’t see. I was passing by a barn last fall out in the middle of somewhere I’d never been and it caught my eye in such a way that I had to go back and ask to snap a few pictures. My mother and my sister in law loved it so much that each had to have a framed print for Christmas. Cars drive right by it everyday and probably are in such a hurry that they miss out on something beautiful. I often find myself doing the same with people. I try to find the best in others. To see what others miss. And the same can be said now of waterfalls.
My passion began with a thirst to see every one listed on a site, in a book, etc. And in the beginning, I wanted to see the biggest and most powerful ones. The taller the better. The more water that pounded off it the more I loved it. But over time, my tastes have changed. Yes, I still like to see the large ones, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re my favorites. Now, I tend to want to go searching for the less seen ones or even the undocumented or undiscovered ones. If I can’t go where no one has ever been, I at least want to go where no one has been in some time. And that’s what happened last weekend.
Hurricane falls is, as the crow flies, less than 3 miles from the Walhalla city limits. The last time anyone was there that I can find was in December of 2006, almost 10 years ago. And judging by the condition of the terrain and the complete lack of any trail, I’d say that was probably right. I had to bushwhack and mountain goat my way in. On my first attempt, I actually didn’t find it but found another small falls instead. On my way back out, Irealized the error I made in my search and so the next day I went back. This time, I found it. But still, it took quite a bit of effort. I had to trim back rhododendron, saw off broken logs, cut away briars and vines, and at times get down on my hands and knees and belly crawl. Other times I was forced to hang on to roots and limbs to keep from sliding off the bank and in one spot to climb up along the side of a smaller falls about 30 feet high. But, in the end, I found it, and it was spectacular.
When I got home, I went out to my laundry room to take off my wet, muddy clothes, and goodness was I filthy. I had dirt and sticks and leaves in places that I’m not sure how they ever got there. It looked like a bird nest had been torn apart on my floor. And as I was washing off all the mess of the day, God spoke to my heart what I’m about to share.
He said that my love for finding beauty in the hidden or forgotten places came from His heart, because that’s how He feels about each and every single one of us. To Him, we aren’t forgotten, even though we may often feel that way. Just like the waterfall had, in a sense, become lost because of all the overgrowth and downfall, our life does as well, overgrown and covered in the downfall of sin. And just as I was covered in all the filth of the day’s journey, Jesus was covered in all our filth of sin. He willingly took it all upon Himself, in a spiritual search for the beauty that is each and every single one of our souls. He loves you, and me, that much. And His final lesson was this: it’s not my job to clean up the beautiful thing I see, even though I’d love to go in and cut up the trees that have fallen and make it look perfect. Nor is it my job to do that with someone. God will handle the cleanup, all He asks is that we see the beauty that is there.
Social search your heart, and figure out what it is that you are deeply passionate about. Remember, God is holy, so don’t try to justify sin by saying it must be what God wants you to do. But if you are a child of God, and you find that your passions are good and pure, there’s a good chance that it comes from His heart. Allow Him to use it to help you grow closer in your walk with Him and to lead others to Him. I hope you’ve gotten something out of all of this and it helps you on your way. Hopefully we’ll have the pleasure of meeting along the trail of life some day. May God bless you all on your journey.