The gasp sprang involuntarily from my mouth as I gripped the door handle in a futile attempt to pull the car a little further onto the road.
Even though we’d been warned that the road to the Lamington National Park was a little curvy and narrow in places, the reality was way more than I’d ever imagined! In fact, describing this particular mountain road as a “little curvy and narrow” was like saying that Mt. Everest is just a tiny bit on the steep side!
When my ears began popping with the change of altitude, I started to wonder why I hadn’t yet turned my usual shade of green. Although the worst of my travel sickness days are long behind me, a winding road still has the power to trigger off that horrible sense of nausea and misery which is so familiar to poor travellers everywhere. In the end I decided that my body had gone into shock the minute we came to the first one-lane, blind, hairpin bend, and as a result, all physical reactions had shut down and gone into hiding!
In other words, my nausea response was cowering in terror somewhere at the back of my brain – although the fear response was most definitely in the frontal lobe and clamouring for attention.
All right, I may be exaggerating just a tad, but even so, it was not the most carefree drive we’d ever experienced. It was incredibly steep, tortuously winding, extremely narrow and at times we just weren’t quite sure what was waiting around the next bend.
At one point I remarked on the fact that there weren’t even any guard rails on the side of the road, which seemed almost unbelievable considering the potential danger. Then I realised that in several places there wasn’t actually any “side of the road” at all – only an immediate drop to the valley below!
As we made our way around a particularly nasty bend, the car radio started playing the old Beatles song, “The Long and Winding Road”, which was just too appropriate for words.“They sure got that right!” I said with a laugh, while maintaining my white-knuckled grip on the door handle. “They just left out the narrow part!”
However, in spite of these things, it wasn’t all bad. For one thing, the scenery along the way more than compensated for the fact that the journey was a little unpleasant. From the verdant lushness of the rainforest trees and ferns, to the unexpected appearance of a little wallaby bouncing across the road, we were delighted by the beauty that seemed to increase with every passing mile.
Then there was also the security of knowing that we weren’t travelling alone on our expedition. My Dad was leading the way in his four-wheel drive and, unlike us, he knew where he was going and what to expect. Even though the route was far from easy, there was a special camaraderie between the occupants of the two cars as we made the trek together.
Finally, when we were just a short distance from our destination, the serpentine road seemed to stretch and straighten out, much to our relief. Unfortunately, at the same time it actually became even narrower than it had been before, which was something that, up until then, I would never have believed possible.
Enclosed under the thick rainforest canopy and pressed in by tree trunks on every side, I found myself breathing deeply in, as though that might, in some way, help to suck the sides of the car in as well.
Then, as we passed through the last branches of our arboreal guard of honour, we found ourselves once more in a wide open space, with blue sky above and plenty of room to move. At last we’d arrived at O’Reilly’s, a well known Australian Guest House and tourist attraction right in the heart of the Lamington National Park.
Only then did I exhale.
Choosing one of the many spaces in the carpark, Steve brought the car to a stop and at last we stepped out into the brilliant daylight and fresh mountain air. It was right there and then that I knew without a doubt it had all been worthwhile. Every inch of that long, winding and narrow road, had been necessary to bring us to this magnificent place. No matter how hard some of our journey had been, I could say without hesitation that I was very glad we’d made the trip.
Sure, it would have been far easier to stay in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of my Dad and Step-Mother’s home that day, but we would have missed out on seeing so much. Without venturing out and taking the harder road, we never would have reached the pinnacle experience of looking out from the vantage point of that mountain top.
The same is true for our day to day life and, more importantly, for our spiritual life as well. Receiving Christ as our Lord and Saviour will involve making the decision to leave the familiar and comfortable surroundings of life as we know it, to start out on the often challenging and not quite so comfortable journey into our new life in Him.
Jesus made it clear that if we’re to follow Him, we must be prepared to travel a path that won’t necessarily be all that easy. As He told those who gathered to listen:
In our zeal and desire to win new disciples for our Lord, it can be very easy to misrepresent the life to which Christ calls us. We can make the mistake of preaching a gospel which gives the impression that accepting Christ means an end to all our problems and from that moment on we can expect to live in a neverending state of bliss.
Although this well-intentioned, but very unscriptural, method of evangelism may see many people make impulsive decisions for Jesus, the reality is that many will just as quickly lose heart and turn away when they discover that, in some respects, life may actually become harder.
Without exception, following Jesus always means stepping out from our old, comfortable way of life, in order to start our new journey on the narrowest of roads. At times the way may seem quite long and occasionally there may even be a few dips and curves, but the “scenery” along the way is very beautiful.
There’s also the wonderful truth that we aren’t making this journey alone. Not only do we have Jesus’ footsteps to follow, we also have the Holy Spirit as our guide; and as if that weren’t enough, there’s even more! Cheering us on is “a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) in those men and women of faith who have made the pilgrimage before us, not to mention the millions of brothers and sisters in Christ who are sharing the road with us right here and now.
However, the journey is really only the necessary prelude to our ultimate goal, which of course is to reach our destination. When we finally arrive at the pinnacle of our Christian experience and step from this earthly realm into eternity with God, we’ll know without hesitation that every inch of that long, narrow and sometimes winding road, has been more than worthwhile.
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