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The Inca Trail: closer to Heaven

A llama looks on with curiosity as Brittany and Leigh look up the Inca Trail (Credit: Brittany Kulick)When I left Dallas, TX for Peru, I brought with me a brand new backpack, hiking boots with less than a mile on them and expectations for a great adventure. I also brought along some great advice, "Make the time to see what the Lord wants to tell you on this trip."
 
The Inca Trail had been described to me as both beautiful and as an "endless Stairmaster" with the warning that Day 2 was "the worst."  Unlike many other cases where "the worst" usually isn't so bad, my friends didn't exaggerate.

Day 1 was tough, but our guide started us out easy with lots of breaks, and we were grateful that we had adjusted to the altitude in previous days. But then there was Day 2.  I ended up getting sick the first night (which coincidentally was also the second time in my life to sleep in a tent), couldn't eat breakfast the next morning, and yet, I still had an 11 hour hike including a 4,000ft climb ahead of me, in the rain. At that point, we were about 7.5 miles from the start of the trail, and a long way from the end with no way off the trail except to keep going.

Brittany takes a selfie with her new best frind along the Inca Trail (Credit: Brittany Kulick)As I walked, I asked the Lord to use my discomfort to show me his Truth. I thought about the four-day journey with Machu Picchu waiting at the end, and everything that I would encounter along the way. The trail would reveal breathtaking views, highs and lows, physical challenges, and lots of new experiences alongside a dear friend and 11 strangers from four different countries who became family.

There were aspects of the trip that I had control over, and many aspects that I did not. Isn't that kind of like life? We're each put on this earth with a path to walk and along the way we'll encounter joy, but we'll also encounter bumps and bruises. Each person's walk looks different, some have a lot more valleys than peaks, but if our faith is placed in Christ, our destination is the same. And so, we have an option… we can complain about the valleys and the bumps and bruises, or we can live with a Heaven-focus.  

I'd like to say that the pain went away when I switched my mindset to be focused on my short-term goal of Machu Picchu… but it didn't. What did happen was an appreciation for my surroundings that I didn't have before. I took more photos (including a selfie with a llama), I marveled at the mountains around me, I watched the clouds roll toward me and experienced how it feels to be encapsulated by the clouds, and I took notice of the intricacy of the flowers and how they changed based on our altitude.

A view of lower Machu Picchu ruins as seen from Machu Picchu just a little higher up (Credit: Brittany Kulick)On our last day, the day that we were going to reach Machu Picchu, we woke up at 3:30am to begin our hike. Although I can't really compare anything on earth to what awaits us in Heaven, as we reached the Sun Gate and the clouds below us cleared to reveal Machu Picchu, God gave me a little glimpse into what a life's path well walked will feel like when we reach our ultimate goal.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. –Colossians 3:2

How will your life change if you live with a Heaven focus?

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