For a couple of weeks I was in Colorado with no plans and no school to attend, which meant that I had plenty of time to pour stupid money and attention into awesome things like snow shoe hiking, regular hiking, hiking in this place, and ALSO hiking in that place! Well, I had it in my heart that I was going to go on at least one solo hike, just me and nature. So on this particular day, I packed my kick-butt pale yellow snow suit, rainbow beanie, hazmat fitting snow boots, and snow shoes and took off for the mountains.
On the hike, I was completely alone, not a single other person to be seen. There was a light snow and in certain patches the sky was a brilliant blue. The pines stood tall and firm and the air was a brisk cold, not the kind that makes you feel like someone just tried to sandpaper your face off. I hiked uphill for quite some time until I reached this open space that I knew to be a lake that was completely surrounded by massive peaks covered in the most fluffy powdery snow that you could imagine. In places, the sun broke through the cloud coverage and gleamed off of sections on these peaks. I couldn't believe it. I stood still and looked at everything, being the sole pair of human eyes to be looking at that display right then. I looked back at my trail of snow that had been untouched by anything ever before. I took a break on a tree stump, stopped breathing loudly (uphill people, uphill), stopped crunching snow and just listened to the silence. I soaked it all in; the exploration was refreshing. The silence...it was stirring. God recently spoke to my heart and told me that He would give me courage to face my fears through the Beauty that I was surrounded by. In that moment, it made complete sense.
As I was hiking back down to my car I kept thinking about that statement, "Courage through Beauty." And I realized two things: 1 - my heart is bent on the thrill of discovery as beauty. 2 - I get the same feeling when I'm exploring a person's heart, it's a sense of being humbled and awed...and yet, it's been a long while since I've felt that sort of exploration. I was wondering about why that's been and realized that I had lost the idea that people are beautiful. You see, when it's not right in your face, the beauty of other's hearts and even your own, well, it becomes hard to see. I had felt like my exploration of that terrain had churned up less than glorious scenery, burned forests and dry desert, and so I shut my eyes saying, "no, it doesn't exist." I didn't even try to look further; I lost the belief that the exploration of hearts revealed beauty.
But you know, the Lord calls us into swamps, deserts, and burned forest, so that we can see the world that He believed was worth giving everything up for; the World that He still loves deeply. And He still sees the beauty. It's not always obvious through all the things that we call beautiful, good, holy, righteous, or even "right"; it's not powdery mountain tops in the background of a frozen lake; but it's there in subtle ways; it's the single flower that perseveres in the cracked dry desert; it's there through the honest question that is asked, or the vulnerable moment that is risked.
The beauty of exploration is not in the land that you see, but in the eyes that you see the land through. A snow covered lake was beautiful to me; it empowered me, and motivated me to continue through the exhaustion. I know that is the Courage God was talking about; it's a courageous beauty. A beauty that motivates. A beauty that inspires. A beauty that points to the Almighty. And all of that is found in us. Messy, sinful, broken us. We are still beautiful because we are seen through the eyes of our Father, Creator, and Redeemer. Those are the eyes that I want when looking at this new land. Those are the eyes that I want showing my heart the wonders in this world, which inspire me to be all that I can be. Because all of a sudden this world becomes wonderful, majestic, and bold. Let us explore.