By Arron Chambers
This past summer, instead of traveling across the country, we decided to have a staycation and experience some of the beauty and wonders close to home. My wife, who apparently also wanted us to experience a great deal of pain and discomfort, was intent that we all climb the Manitou Incline.
The Manitou Incline is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, Colorado. The 2,744-step trail is the remains of a railway whose tracks washed out during a rockslide in 1990. The incline is as steep as 68 percent in places, making it a difficult fitness challenge. The incline gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation in less than 1 mile. Does this sound like a vacation to you?
The incline attracts a unique gathering of people—a variety of shapes, sizes, ages, and physical abilities all journeying together for a common goal: to make it to the top. I saw preschoolers, grandparents, pregnant women, and even a guy with a parrot on his shoulder.
Parrot Man, who appeared to be in his mid- to late 60s and in amazing shape, passed my family twice in our one hour of climbing. He passed us as we were starting up the incline, and he passed us again as he was coming back down (which most people don’t do because it’s dangerously steep and your legs are fatigued).
As he passed the first time, I groaned out a question with the little breath I could spare, “Is it worth it?” His immediate reply encouraged and motivated me not to quit.
With joy on his face, he said, “Yes, it’s worth it!”
He was right! The view from the top of the incline was worth every blister, every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, and every step. But it wasn’t just the view from the top that made the climb so worthwhile. The top of the incline was a place of fellowship, encouragement, and celebration. We shared stories of the struggles of the climb, we took pictures together, and we all enjoyed the view from the top. The destination WAS worth the journey!
In one of our 2016 North American Christian Convention planning meetings, our team was wondering how we could encourage people from the Midwest and South to make the trip to Anaheim, California. All of us knew it will require extra effort, time, and sacrifice to come to the NACC this year. We wondered, “How do we convince people it’s worth it?”
I began to think about our theme (“A Better Story”) and how amazing it will be to gather with thousands of other Christians and be encouraged to live a better story in Jesus Christ. I began to think about the incredible lineup of speakers this year: Dudley Rutherford, Rick Rusaw, Gene Appel, Jeff Vines, Kyle Idleman, Bob Goff, Christine Caine, Naomi Zacharias, Ben Merold, and more! We’ve planned a Thursday-night concert with Grammy Award-winning For King & Country. Great workshops are scheduled, and we will have the opportunity to hear what God is doing in California. Thousands of Christ in Youth students will be joining us in worship on Thursday night. There will be fellowship with dear friends, daily encouragement, and tremendous worship all taking place in beautiful Anaheim, California—across the street from Disneyland.
In response to the question, I replied with confidence, “The destination is worth the journey.”
Now, I may not have a parrot on my shoulder, and your journey to California may not leave you with blisters, sore calf muscles, and the commitment to never ever let your wife plan your staycation again. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you any sacrifice you, your team, and your family make to get to the 2016 NACC in Anaheim, California, on July 12-15, will be worth it.
The fellowship will be worth it.
The encouragement we will experience throughout the week will be worth it.
The celebration in Christ Jesus we will share in Anaheim this summer will be worth it.
The destination is worth the journey!
See you at the top!
Arron Chambers serves as lead minister with Journey Christian Church, Greeley, Colorado.