“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, Message)
We were trekking along the Track and Tower Trail, a 7.7 km loop that would lead us to a subliminal overlook of Algonquin Provincial Park. The trail at times was quite steep and muddy, but we kept our eyes on the end result.
On our way to the outlook, we found some beautiful spots–wild ducks, cascading rivers, a dam, lakes–For some this was enough, for the difficulties of the trail discouraged them from seeking the main overlook. Sadly they never reached the top, and they never saw the view. They were too focused on adversity to fix their eyes on the end result.
Other people tried to be encouraging towards these poor souls. They had been to the overlook and they knew how worthy it was the climb. Some listened and persevered, others shrug their shoulders and said, “We are too tired!”
Sure enough, once we reached the overlook, the trials of the trail became quite dim in comparison to the fabulous sight we saw. With the sun shining over the mountaintops and trees, illuminating the beautiful Cache Lake below, this overview hosted one of the most magnificent views in all of Algonquin, and it will stay in our hearts forever.
Patrick Hamilton, aged twenty-five, was facing huge adversity: he was going to be burned at the stake. The year was 1528. Coming from an affluent family, he had studied in Paris where he had encountered the truth of Salvation by Faith in Christ alone, as taught by Martin Luther. Convinced, he returned to his native land, Scotland, and broadcasted this Good News all over the country.
The archbishop was quite unimpressed. In fact he was appalled, so much so that Patrick had a super quick trial in St. Andrews that led him immediately to the stake. His influential friends didn’t have the time to do anything for him. He could have saved himself, however. All he had to do was renounce his faith. To Patrick, God’s grace was more real than the stake, and he boldly declared: “No man can do a greater honor to God than to count Him true.”
To Patrick, God was more real and trustworthy than adversity itself. He knew that our Heavenly Dad would honor His Word, and in an instant after Patrick’s death, he would be in the presence of his Heavenly Dad Himself.
If only we all would focus on heaven alone, our ultimate destiny, and especially on our loving Dad, nothing would ever faze us. Our worries would become so insignificant compared to being in the presence of our Heavenly Dad. This is when real living starts, a life where our trust is solely on our Father, and where our worries evaporate into nothingness. After all, didn’t Jesus encourage us to “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34, Message)
All our temporal worries, as well as all our possessions, are just that: Temporary! The estate of Judge George Barclay in Algonquin Provincial Park was established at the beginning of the 19th century and was last occupied in the summer of 1956. Today, this huge estate has been completely reconquered by nature. Some foundations remain, but otherwise, no one would ever have a clue that there used to be an estate on the shores of Rock Lake. The same is true with all of our worries and possessions. Only our Dad in Heaven lasts forever, and He is the One Who will ultimately bring us to our final destination. The view there will be even more subliminal than anything we have seen on Earth, and His love way more exquisite than any we have ever experienced.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV)
Would you like to join me and see an unforgettable view? It’s worth all the adversity we will be facing!
(To access the entire “Alive” devotional series, please click here.)