At the camp I attended, we did a lot of hiking. The photo pictured here is from Heybrook Lookout during the summer of 1982. It was our least favorite day hike. First, it was nearly straight up on a poorly maintained trail that ascended five thousand feet to an abandoned fire station lookout. Next, the trees had grown over so that most of the view was obstructed. And finally, there was no lake, river, or even small stream to give us relief from the summer heat.
So why did we go to Heybrook? It wasn’t until I became a counselor that I realized the importance of this hike. When we arrived at the summit, worn out, tired and completely underwhelmed, the lead counselor would ask this question, “What did you come here looking for?” The complaints started, like these: “This place sucks… Why did you make us come up here… I hate this place.” The counselor would smile and ask again, “What did you come here looking for?” The consensus? “Something better than this.”
“Ah,” replied the counselor, “so you don’t like this place. You know, sometimes in life, you’ll be on a long walk uphill and when you get there it won’t feel worth it. None of us gave you any expectations of what this hike would be like – you came up with them yourselves.” Then the counselor would share a story from his or her own life about expectation and disappointment. By then, we’d settled down and caught our breath. The counselor would continue, “After my big hill climb of expectation that didn’t pan out, God would ask me to look for the beauty that surrounds me. And, that’s when I found what I was looking for.” Then the counselor would take two campers at a time up the wooden steps to get the view of what only forest rangers could see. The lookout has a 360 degree view in which you could see Seattle, Puget Sound, Canada, Mt. Rainer, and several other notable mountain peaks. It was a view un-paralleled by anything I’ve ever seen since. Each set of campers would come down different from when they went up.
Since my summers at camp, I’ve had several Heybrook moments. A long hike that seemed to pan out for nothing until time, and God, showed me something extraordinary. I imagine that is what it was like for Peter, James, and John to follow Jesus all the way up a mountain only to find it empty. Later on, however, they witnessed the transfiguration and came down the mountain different from when they started.
If you ever have a Heybrook moment in your spiritual life, perhaps God has some beauty to show you that will defy even your wildest expectations.