3260 6th Street Drive NW | Hickory, NC 28601 828-324-5405

     With the busyness of the end of a school year on our shoulders, a long Memorial Day weekend was just what the doctor ordered!  On Monday, we loaded up the family and headed to the mountains for a picnic and some hiking.  Of course, we received the normal mixed reaction from the kids, with some really excited, and others making it clear that they prefer the great indoors.  But, once we got past the “You are going, and you are having fun whether you like it or not!” speech, all was well.
      After a lengthy drive on a dirt road, through the woods, we arrived at our trail head.  This particular trail was only about a mile in length, but uphill the entire way, and very steep at the end.  There were lots of rocks and washed out areas that made it even more challenging, and I must admit that I had to stop a few times for a breather.  The legs are older and carrying a bigger load than they used to!  There were a few times when one of the kids would question why we were doing this, and what was in it for them.  In their minds, the hill, rocks, and mud were not worth it.  But, Gayle and I knew that there was a reward for us at the top, so we kept encouraging them to plug away.  And then, it happened…
     We decided it would be fun to take our dog, Lucy, on this trip.  Lucy loves to go for walks, and is extra pumped about being in the woods with her people.  Her ancient animal heritage comes through in situations like this (which is great, because sometimes I wonder if she even remembers that she is a dog when she is sitting on the couch watching a movie with the kids).    I had Lucy on a leash about 7-8 feet in front of me, when we rounded a turn in the trail.  As my eyes came around the curve, I saw the dog straddling a long, dark object on the path.  Immediately, I knew it was a snake, and my first reaction was to pull back hard on the leash.  Unfortunately for Lucy, she is only 20 lbs, so my jerk sent her flying through the air in reverse, like a giant yo-yo.
     Stretched out across the path was a rattlesnake.  It laid motionless as if we were not there, and somehow chose not to bite the dog that had just stepped all over it. The snake was about 3 1/2 feet

This guy gave us quite a scare!

long, and showed up clearly on the dirt path, blocking our way through.  Of course, we all took turns looking at it, before getting a long stick to prod it away from us.  I assumed that once I poked it a few times, it would flee from us.  Interestingly, when I pushed it off the path, it immediately turned to come back, as if it was intentionally hindering our progress toward the goal of the top of the mountain.  At this time, several of the family members began to question the whole expedition.  Isn’t this a sign that we should turn back?  What if there are more dangers ahead?  The car seems much safer!

     Eventually, I was able to keep the stick on the head of the rattler so that it would not come any closer, while we all passed through.  Everyone hugged Lucy and told her how happy we were that she was not dead.  Of course, she never knew the difference, and was happy to continue to lead the way to the top. 
     As we scaled the rocky path, which seemed to become almost vertical at the end.  As my heart was pounding, and my lungs heaving, all of a sudden, the tree line cleared, and we were on top of the world!  Without the mountain or trees to block it, there was a cool breeze which brought immediate relief to the weary travelers.  We all chose large boulders to sit on, and we just soaked in the reward of the incredible scenery.  God really is amazing, isn’t He?  At the end of the day, it was all worth it.  The complaining, the dusty road, the rocky trail, the steep climbing, and yes, even the snake.  When we reached the point of successful completion, and realized that God rewards those who persevere, the satisfaction was…well…satisfying.

My graduating senior symbolically looking toward her future

     I know that the duration of a school year can be much like a hike up a mountain.  We begin with a goal in mind, and an excitement about reaching it.  But, we quickly find that there are all sorts of obstacles and difficulties along the way, sometimes even some “rattlesnakes”.  However, once we get to these final few days of a school year, I am always reminded that it is worth it.  The kids are worth it.  The families are worth it.  Jesus is worth it.
     On Friday, we will send the next batch of HCA graduates into the world.  Some are more prepared than others.  Some will make wise decisions from day one.  Others will step on some snakes and trip on some rocks before getting to the top.  But, the faithful training that they have received from parents and teachers, grounded in scripture, will have its desired effect on each life, just as God has promised us.  God’s word is life to the dying, and refreshment for the weary.  And, at the end of the day, Christ is our reward.

So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands.  – Isaiah 55:11-12
Thanks for your partnership in Christian education this year.  There are so many awesome things happening at HCA right now, that I am so excited to share with you.  Stay tuned for an update in the near future!