Sometimes it is so easy to forget what we have right close to hand. Maybe being close makes you takes things for granted, maybe you get used to something and don’t even think about it. Like a New Yorker who has never bothered to visit the Statue of Liberty or a Bostonian who has never gone to see the USS Constitution. Sometimes maybe we are even intimidated by what other people think of what THEY have. I have a cousin who visited from Texas when he was about 12 years old. When we asked him what he thought about New England, he said (in that annoying way Texans can have), “I’m absolutely amazed…we drove across three states in one day. In Texas we couldn’t get from one end of the county to the other in one day!”
So when you start talking about things like National or State Parks, and how big they are or how many attractions are there, you might think of a place like Yellowstone, or the Great Smoky Mountains. HUGE places with large expanses of wilderness. Places that loom large in our minds.
This last week I spent some time in a place fairly close to us in Vermont, in upstate New York in the Adirondack Park. Small pickings compared to the western parks, right? You want the truth? The Adirondack Park is the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark. It is larger in land area than the state of Vermont (9,400 sq-miles versus 9,250 sq-miles), covering 6.1 million acres. It is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined! There are more than 3,000 lakes and 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of streams and rivers. Many areas within the park are devoid of settlements and distant from usable roads. The park includes over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of hiking trails; these trails comprise the largest trail system in the nation. (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adirondack_Park)
Yes, sometimes it is easy to forget what you have when you are so close to it. Don’t we do that in our spiritual life, too? We forget who and what we are in Jesus Christ. We forget the Kingdom of Heaven is not just for when we die, but it lives within every believer! We have a vast power contained within us, with the Holy Spirit giving light and life. But we forget, and our light is hidden under a basket, so to speak. I am convinced that our quality of life is thereby infinitely diminished.
I went back to our family’s home-away-from-home this last week, Inlet, New York in the Adirondack Park, and re-discovered what I had lost. I found myself longing for the woods, the waterways and the life that is there. I even longed for the smell of the forest. And I find myself longing for the life of the Kingdom of Heaven, here on earth. It is not far, it is close. But I have hidden it away.
It is time to find it again. Would you join me?
“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ ”
Matthew 10:6-8 (NIV)