This past summer, our family visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, a park stretching roughly 35 miles along the northeastern coast of Lake Michigan. It was once crowned The Most Beautiful Place in America by “Good Morning America” viewers.
One of the most touted places to take in the sweeping vista of turquoise water meeting massive sand dunes is from an overlook along a short scenic drive within the park. After parking our car and walking toward a platform perched 450 feet over the water, we were met by a young, out-of-breath couple who asked us to take their picture. They excitedly shared they’d just climbed the dunes after splashing in the water below, an adventure that took 90 seconds going down, but shockingly one hour climbing back up!
Soon I noticed a large sign discouraging visitors from descending to the water’s edge, stating if you are not physically fit enough to complete the return climb, there would be a hefty extraction fee for the park service to get you out.
From the overlook, we took plenty of Instagram-worthy photos of endless water touching sky, but I also kept snapping pictures of people climbing back up the dunes. They looked like tiny ants in a photo, but when I pinched my phone out for a closer look, I could see all ages and sizes of people climbing on all fours in the hot sun, sheer exhaustion on their faces.
I wondered if any of them regretted ignoring the warning sign, and I thought about the extraction fee for an unplanned rescue.
It made me think about times I quickly got myself into bad situations—when getting back out seemed monumental.
Warning signs I ignored.
Holes I dug myself into.
Overestimating my own strength.
Yet the Lord mercifully heard my cries for rescue and planted my feet back on solid ground. He never chides me for wandering, just carries me back to safety. Best of all, He never charges me the extraction fee because He already paid that fee on Calvary.
What a rescue story!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.