You need to win the lottery to get to The Wave, but you don’t need to jump through any hoops to get to heaven.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.Matthew 7:21
How to Get to The Wave
“I can’t believe one of us actually won the lottery!” my friend said. Did you realize between one and two thousand people apply for the permit lottery to hike to The Wave every. single. day?”
“I read online only 4-8% of the people who apply for the advanced lottery get a permit,” one of the other ladies said.
“Absolutely crazy,” I said. “Who knew it took so much work to hike in the wilderness! Or require such a bumpy drive,” I joked.
“They only let 64 people a day into the area,” the fourth member of our group said. “Sixteen can try for the daily lottery, and the rest must win the advanced lottery. I’m glad you figured it out and told us what to do,” she told our group leader.
The truck bounced as we crossed a dry stream bed. Our group of four (according to the experts, groups of four people have better chances of winning the lottery) applied in May. Five months later, we drove through the starry night down a rough road to the staging area.
We would follow an established trail for the first mile of the 3.2-mile hike into The Wave. After that, we had waypoints and compass readings provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to those who win the lottery. I purchased the Gaia compass app to make life easier whilst hiking in the dark over unknown territory.
Another lady had memorized the geographical features from the BLM materials, and someone else had a different GPS app on their phone. Everyone had warned us the trail had no markings, and the BLM encouraged hikers to fan out and avoid creating obvious trails.
What They Don’t Tell You
“I think we go this way,” our leader said.
I took a few steps with my phone in hand, checking to see if the marker on the app followed the trail someone else had taken. “Yep, I think so.”
“What’s that?” someone else asked.
We shone our headlamps in the direction she pointed. The light bounced off a small sign, and we headed toward it. Starting before sunlight worked to our advantage because our lights picked up the markers along the way.
While the trail is unmarked, the BLM has erected small signposts to help keep hikers headed in the general direction. We noticed my app and the leader’s app often indicated slightly different trails, but they all ended in the same place.
Some of us had a lot of experience hiking in extreme conditions, and others had only recently started exercising. We saw beautiful things along the way and arrived at the entrance to The Wave precisely two hours after we started.
The Wave towered above us; the pale pinks and mauves of the sandstone curved and swooped. We took dozens of photos. “Someone said online it looks even better when the sun hits it directly,” our leader said. “Does anyone else want to explore while we wait?”
Want to Get to Heaven?
We all fanned out, each of us finding something beautiful to photograph or climb. Two of us climbed to an arch high above The Wave. I realized I could have spent an entire week exploring Coyote Buttes North and snapping photos.
When we returned to The Wave an hour later, it glowed as if lit from within. This time, the sun brought out the reds and oranges of the sandstone. Everchanging, always beautiful, I wondered what it looked like in the winter with snow. I needed to bring other family members here. And then I remembered the complicated lottery system.
Imagine if it took that much work to get to heaven. Of course, a lot of people will tell you getting to heaven takes work. They’ll insist you must start early and follow a well-worn path. Some even believe one must get permits (church membership) and basically win the lottery to enter the pearly gates.
Other people wonder about the fuss. Who would want to spend eternity in the same place, anyway? Christians forget God’s simple instructions on how to get to heaven. Believe in him. Accept his Son. Admit we aren’t God and we’re sinful. Learn to love. The Bible provides a GPS system to guide us. The path may look different for everyone at different stages in their lives. God doesn’t expect us to follow a religion; he expects us to follow him.
Father God, help me to remember religions provide community, not the way to you. You care more about our relationships with you and each other than you do about the rules and regulations men came up with. Help me never to confuse the two.