A few weeks ago, my husband and I made small a detour on our way home from a camping trip in Michigan. I wanted to see the dunes. Aaron had spent time here as a child; his memories and my curiosity about giant sand dunes in Michigan were enough to sidetrack our journey home.
The entrance to Warren Dunes State Park could have been the entrance to any park in the nation. We made our way at 10 mph around to the lakefront shore; as soon as we broke out of the trees into the open ground surrounding the lake, I saw them. Standing 240 feet (almost the length of a football field) above the lake, one of the dunes, apply named Tower Hill, looms above the parking area. Shaped and formed by winds and rain, the yellow sand glints in the sun.
We kicked off our shoes and began to climb. Every step you take is reduced by at least half as the sand shifts beneath your feet – if the fitness gurus get a hold of this, we will all have huge piles of sand in our basements for at-home-sand-running work outs. “15 minutes a day and you will look fabulous!” Of course the real work out will be cleaning up all the sand! Feel the burn.
Once we made it to the top (and I stopped breathing like a locomotive), we began to explore. Tower Hill is just one in a string of dunes that line the lake shore. “I wonder how long these have been here?” “What did they look like 10 years ago? 50 years ago? 100 years ago?” As I wondered around, taking in the view, it occurred to me that permanence is a matter of perspective. From my finite human point of view, things that last 100 years seem permanent. From God’s infinite point of view, things that last 100 years are like the blink of an eye. These dunes are constantly changing and shifting – I may not even recognize them in 50 years – and yet they seem very substantial and long-lasting from my perspective. We need God’s wisdom and guidance in our lives – only He has the perspective to guide our decisions and to reveal the things that have eternal permanence.
As I turned to leave, I noticed a beautiful poplar tree. It was rooted into the side of the dune, and had grown up and spread great shady, leafy bows. I stood for a minute, enjoying its shade, and realizing that when I listen to God and live my life based on His perspective, He will cause my life to grow and produce fruit, even in an ever-changing, unstable landscape like the one we are living in now. He is our permanence. He is our constant. He is our Rock.
With that, I began my wild descent of Tower Hill dune. The sand slopes away at a steep angle, perfect for spreading your arms, leaping out and then running all the way down. The way up is rough, but the way down is exhilarating. So fun, in fact, that we climbed up and did it again!