Another Lesson I Learned from the Sand Dunes

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5 (NIV)


I spoke last time that every year my family goes on a special vacation to Traverse City, Michigan.  We love it up there. I love God’s creation and being out in it refreshes and rejuvenates me more than most other activities.

We also visit Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Usually we first drive the scenic route and then tackle the dune climb.  This particularly year I was dreading the dune climb but would feel like a failure if I didn’t attempt it.  I have a foot injury I’m trying to get under control and I also have asthma that doesn’t like dune climbing very much. Even though my husband gave me a free pass to sit this one out, I felt like if I did, I would be admitting defeat and I didn’t want to do that.

While on the scenic drive, there is one stop off that invites the visitors to climb a short distance and the view is spectacular.  It also has a sign warning of the steep dune that makes up that spectacular view.  Visitors aren’t prohibited from descending; but they are warned that most can’t make it back up and those that do, it takes two hours or $75 in rescue fees.  The other alternative is a two mile hike to Empire Beach where someone you call can come pick you up.

We’ve been visiting this area for eight years and never during our trips have I seen anyone descend and/or attempt to climb back up.  However, this trip there were two couples from California – young and in great shape – and the men decided they wanted to defeat the mountain.  The women took their gear and resigned themselves to a 2+ hour wait for their “boys” to come back up.  We got to watch them descend and they loved it!  You could hear their contagious laughter and bantering back and forth while running full speed down the hill to the clear water waiting below.  After enjoying their fun secondhand, our family moved away from the edge and explored some on our own.

We stayed up there for about 30 minutes and decided to check on the guys’ progress before leaving.  They had barely made a dent in their return trip.  They were spider crawling back up, or attempting to and hadn’t covered much distance.  We didn’t stick around to see if they needed to be rescued, hiked the two miles to the nearest beach to be picked up or eventually made it up on their own power.

We left there and drove to the dune climb and that’s when I looked at the “mountain” I was deciding whether or not to conquer.  I realized it wasn’t nearly as big as I had remembered.  It was big, and you have to be in shape to accomplish it, but it wasn’t impossible.  Changing my mindset and implementing the sideways walking my husband suggested and led me with, I was able to get up to the top in a short amount of time and wasn’t nearly as winded as I had imagined in my mind for two days’ prior.

How many times in life have I been tempted to do something, thinking it will be fun, and then realizing afterward I made a mistake and shouldn’t have taken that path? How many times in life have I imagined something harder than it really is?  Have I built something up in my mind to the point where I think it’s impossible, but if I take it in bite sized pieces, it’s quite attainable?  That’s why I need to always be asking for God’s wisdom.  If I let Him lead, He will steer me clear of the sand dunes that could charge me costly fines for needing to be rescued while at the same time, He can remind me that with a little sideways walking, what seemed impossible is really quite fun.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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