I had a fairly good imagination as a kid. Just ask some of my teachers about the excuses I gave for not having my homework done.

However, a recent eight-hour round trip by car reminded me of how limited my imagination was in some cases.

My parents did not take us on many long car trips. (With three young boys and eventually a little girl to contend with, I don't blame them.) However, Dad did take occasional day trips to New Jersey to see his aunt or uncle, or elsewhere to visit a state park or other attraction. As a result, we would drive four or five hours, visit and then return.

Although the return trip took about same amount of time as the journey to our destination, it always seemed twice as long. It was then that my imagination went into effect, but surprisingly, I did not wish that our old Buick and my family would be instantly transported to the parking place in front of our home.

Instead, I imagined what it would be like if our car could be magically transported to the next mountaintop and from there to the next one until we were home in a matter of minutes. I knew even then that this was impossible.

Yet there are times today when I imagine what it would be like if life were just joyful peaks - births, graduations, weddings, anniversaries. Why do we have to proceed slowly through valleys of sickness, unemployment, divorce and death?

Faith tells us that God's love enables us to climb out of these valleys and experience the joy of the mountaintop. However, this life itself, even at its best, is a valley when compared to the eternal heights we will one day reach in God's presence.

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God's love energizes us

for life's climbs.