I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be. (lyrics by Josh Groban)
This song ran through my head one August day as my family hiked through Glacier National Park. Little Joel, at only 3 1/2 years old, was a brave and ready hiker, but often wanted a lift from his Daddy or big brothers. We had no need for bear bells, for when Joel was happy, he spoke a running commentary through the forest, and when he was tired there were wails of complaints.
Our first day, we rode the free shuttle over the Going-to-the-Sun Road and hiked the popular path to Avalanche Lake on the west side of the park. After cooling our toes and throwing rocks into the lake, we headed back down to the Trail of Cedars. On the way, along with some other hikers, we encountered a black bear! As Joel sat safely on big brother Jacob’s shoulders, his mom hid behind them both, and brother Kevin snapped photos of the furry guest.
The second day took us to Red Rock Lake and Falls in the Many Glacier area on the east side of the park. This was a gentle path near our campsite, but Joel still thought some carrying would be a good idea. Not too far down the trail, at Fishercap Lake, we witnessed a bull moose swimming in the water. At the Falls, Joel, who was earlier short on strength, thought he should climb up the steep rocks to be with his brothers.
The third day, the weather turned to wind and rain, but we were already signed up for a ranger-led hike to the Grinnell Glacier, also on the east side. Our voyage began at 8:30 a.m.on Chief Two Guns, a passenger boat on Swiftcurrent Lake outside the Many Glacier Hotel. The vessel took us to the other shore where we hiked over the ridge to Lake Josephine. There we boarded another boat, the Morning Eagle. When that ride ended, it was time for the hard work in the pouring rain. Decked in many layers and a trash bag, Joel began the hike to Grinnell Glacier.
But with switchbacks, steep drop offs, high winds and cold rain, Joel was soon needing the strong backs of his Daddy and brothers. By 11 a.m. we reached the pit toilets, just a half mile before the Glacier. Joel was shivering to the core, and with the wind howling, things looked grim. Kevin saved the day with some hand-warmers from his backpack, and Jacob rescued Joel with one last shoulder ride to the top.
There, with the clouds and cold and rain, we gobbled our lunch and admired one of the few shrinking glaciers left in the Park. The 4-mile ascent through precipitation and shear cliffs was suddenly all worthwhile, as we gazed at the Park’s namesake. Then the long 4-mile trek back down the mountain began, and guess who was a great hiker – Joel! Warmed by an occasional sunbeam and his own quick pace, Joel made it all the way back to Lake Josephine where he threw rocks in the water until the 2:45 p.m. boat arrived for the return journey. On the boat, Joel promptly fell asleep.
All those shoulder rides reminded me of this awesome song by Josh Groban. Whereas Joel couldn’t have stood on the mountain, or made it through the storm without his Daddy’s shoulders (and his brothers!), we can’t make it through this life without our heavenly Daddy, caring us along the way. Jesus carries us on sunny days when there are bears. He carries us on cloudy days when we just don’t think we can make it. And the Lord lifts us up when our path takes us through storms and mountains. I am so thankful for Jesus’ shoulders!
Today’s TEA CUPP: Enjoy this video of Josh Groban’s song and praise Jesus for all the times He has carried you today.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29 (NKJV)
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. Exodus 15:2 (NKJV)
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (NKJV)
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.