The Ghost Gum Walk takes a very leisurely 30 minutes to navigate and wind your way up to an elevation approximately 150m to the bottom of the gorge. At the top of the lookout there are numerous photo opportunities and a solitary Ghost Gum has grown and sits high on the hill. The whiteness of the tree itself does have an eerie look to it, yet you cannot help but stare at this marvellous looking tree.
I walked to the top of this hill with my 3 sons (aged 10, 7 and 2). Each had their own goal and reason for wanting to get up and see the tree. It reminded me, as a Christian man, that each of believer has a different way or response when we walk to the foot of the Cross of Jesus. In my view, as spectacular or marvellous the outcome of the Easter story is, the Cross deserves a response regardless of our belief or unbelief in the person of Jesus.
My eldest son is the leader and the determined one. He just wants to get there as soon as he can and wants to run as fast as he can. He does not care that there are hills, large steps, and possible danger if he stumbles or falls off the ridge. He just wants to get there. He does not like anyone, including his younger brothers, to pass him. He will get there and he does not care if no one else does, or is struggling or needs a hand. "Dad," he says, "I'll see you at the top." When he gets there he sees the tree and says, "Okay Dad, I'll see you down the bottom." "What about the view son?" "Yeh Dad? Oh yeh? I see it. It's great. Let's take a photo. Can I go back now?"
The second son...yes, the middle child tries to keep up, but just can't. Yet, he has a determination to get there just as deep as his older brother. It takes him a bit longer, but he still gets to the top to see the tree. But when he gets there, he pauses; he climbs over the barriers and hugs the tree. He touches the tree. He wants a photo near the tree. He just stares and says, "Wow Dad! This is awesome!" I then tell him to get out from behind the barrier because there is a reason for the barrier and tell him to come and look at the view. Again, he just says with hands on his hips shaking his head, "Wow! I love this!"
The third son knows he has no hope of keeping up with the other two. We try to persuade him to stay at the bottom, but where Dad goes, he goes. Where the older brothers go, he must go because surely he is capable enough to get there. It is a slow and quiet walk. We stop for water breaks. I offer to pick him up to help keep pace with the other two. I get a direct answer, "No Daddy." We take our time. I keep glancing at the tree wondering if we will ever get there. The third son just trudges along looking at his feet, climbing up the steps, stopping in the shade, asking for drinks and at times getting too close to the edge for a look. We get to the top with no assistance from Dad and he just says, "Dad, muscles!" and rubs his legs with a big smile on his face. He drinks all his water leaning against the tree. He looks over at the view and says nothing. Perhaps not sure what he should say or do. We begin our descent and all he can say is "Daddy...up please." I take him in my arms. He snuggles. He smiles.
As I pondered these things, I wondered how a preacher might describe this and ask, "Which son are you when you come to the foot of Jesus' Cross?"
A preacher might describe number one son like this: I know my Jesus came and died for me. Come along for the ride everybody. Surely you can see Him. No time for questions. Just follow me. I'll see you in heaven and I'm sure if you just sing the right songs, go to the right church, read your Bible and pray, just as I do, you'll get there too. It certainly is worth it when you find it and when you do, I'll be onto another ministry or starting another program which I hope and pray you find the time to come and volunteer for and help out with. I am so glad God is on my side.
The preacher might describe number two son like this: Jesus is just awesome. Wow. Just come and see him. Let's sit and just contemplate what he has done for us...for me. Do we have to leave his presence? Oh, everyone else has. I will take this moment with me wherever I go. When I get back to everyone, I just will tell them about every part of the journey and what I would like to do next...if it is alright with Him. I am so glad to be on His side.
And the preacher, the third son like this: Jesus, this is hard work. I need help, but I am not sure there is anyone round to help me. I know I have my head down, but I am determined to get there. What? Another set of steps? Another steep incline. I know there are people around me to help, but I want to get there myself. I know. I can see the cross in the distance. I can get there because I know it is worth it in the end. When I get there, I look so forward to continuing the journey with you carrying me along the way. I will just bask in your presence and just enjoy the ride with you as my company. I am so glad God is by my side.
The preacher might summarise it as: I pray you find yourself at the Cross of Jesus. Enjoy the walk. Yes, Ghost Gum Walk has a likeness to life's journey.
Philippians 2: 8-11 (TNIV) seems to me a summary of Jesus' life: "And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."