By Rev. Pete Hyde
It was the summer of 1968. The Scouts from Topeka loaded up early and headed to the beginning point of their week-long adventure. They were going to spend the next 5 days hiking 50 miles of the actual Santa Fe Trail that runs from Independence, Kansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their leaders did some research on the old Santa Fe Trail and overlaid the old trail map on a current property owner’s map. They contacted the property owners and received permission for this group of Scouts to hike to the original trail, which now ran through pastures, across streams and over the rolling plains of Kansas from Burlingame to Council Grove. Only a small portion of the trek would be done on roadways or easy terrain. Campsites were preset, so they had to cover the planned mileage each day in order to finish on time and at the planned location. The first couple of days were the longest. They covered almost 25 miles while fresh and energetic. But then the doldrums set in. The landscape was unchanging. The trudging cross country, carrying our personal equipment in back packs, crossing barbed wire fences, wading through streams that still had water in them in the middle of a Kansas summer became an arduous routine. Why couldn’t we have just taken the easy route on the roads that marked the “approximate” route of the Santa Fe Trail? The leaders encouraged us to keep moving and not lag behind the rest of the group. Each day brought a new set of challenges for the increasingly tired group who spent the nights sleeping on the ground in tents. Each night we went to sleep a little earlier. I remember being so tired of the journey that it did not seem like an adventure any more. I toiled against the heaviness of the backpack. Many times I found myself looking down at my feet and just placing one foot in front of the other, almost counting the steps to reach some magic number when I could stop and rest even for a short few minutes. It was in those times that one of our leaders would come up beside me and tell me to pick my head up, look around, take in the sights, notice the surroundings, remember the history through which we were walking. I lifted my head more out of obedience than anything else. (I was a good child of a military father.) When I lifted my head and began to look around my attitude changed. I seemed to be less tired. The boredom and drudgery of the hike seemed to disappear. Time and distance passed by quickly and easily. When I turned my focus away from me and my struggles and began to concentrate on other things, the immediate task became easier. I learned a lesson that summer between 8th and 9th grade. It would be a lesson I learn and forget many times over the years. Whatever your struggle, whatever tasks you face today or this week, take time to pick your head up from the drudgery and look around you. Move your focus away from yourself to what God has placed around you, whether that be family, friends, nature, a good song, a short Bible reading, cup of coffee (enjoyed, not drunk to get the caffeine rush), a look out the window at the portrait God has painted in the clouds above. A few moments spent focusing on what God places around us and on others will change your attitude and add new life to the tasks you face each and every day. So, lift up your head today. Acknowledge what God has placed in your life and do something for someone else.
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach Community Church