“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I vacationed in Oahu, Hawaii, I had the opportunity to hike the Diamond Head Crater. Before starting my journey, I stood on my toes in the parking lot, cupping my hands over my eyes, straining to find the summit only to see a very long sloping hill. But I wasn’t discouraged, I knew it was up there and I was going to reach my destination. Already at 200 feet from the base of the volcano, I began my ascent of 561 feet on paved and then rocky terrain that was uneven, narrow, winding, and very steep requiring me to take extra caution of where I stepped otherwise I’d find myself tumbling back down to the parking lot. Not only did I have to endure the tricky paths, I also had to climb four different flights of stairs. The first set consisted of 74 concrete steps followed by a 225-foot dark tunnel where I was faced with a choice: endure the darkness or end my adventure here and turn around.

tunnel in Diamond Head

Determined to reach the top, I overlooked my fear of the unknown and grasped the rail, trusting it would lead me out of the tunnel. After what seemed like a long, long time in the dark, I finally stepped out into the blinding, tropical sun. I stretched my arms and tilted my head back, embracing its glorious light and warmth that washed away the last trace of gloom.  Putting my sunglasses back on, I found myself standing at the base of another set of stairs. I raised my eyes slowly over the steep steps, searching for the top, but I couldn’t find it. I already knew this second set of stairs consisted of 99 steps, but standing there at the base of it brought a new perspective to this magnificent climb! I braced myself for the challenge and began my climb, one step at a time. Halfway up, I stopped and looked behind me. I was amazed at how far I’ve already hiked and knew I was that much closer to my goal. I took a deep breath, tasting the saltiness in the air from the ocean and felt another round of the adrenaline rush through my legs, resuming my climb.


Approaching to the top of the staircase, I let out a disappointing groan at my discovery – another tunnel. This is just cruelty. I’m almost at the summit and I have to endure darkness again?! But I believed that my destination would be worth this part of the journey. Taking hold of the railing again, I climbed a steep slope inside the tunnel to a spiral staircase of 43 more steps that led me further up inside the volcano. At the top of the stairs, light shone through openings of the bunker walls used in World War II. I had to slide my body through one of the narrow slits of concrete to get to the outside.

bunker on Diamond Head

Once I found my bearings, I finally saw the observation deck. My steps quickened its pace to match the heartbeats in my chest as I eagerly reached the last set of stairs, 54 metal steps that would take me to the top.

A light cool breeze brushed my skin, causing goose bumps to surface as I rushed toward the last step and suddenly stopped, breathless at the view. Bright colors of fuchsia, violet, red, gold, and orange dotted against the greenery at the base of the volcano that seemed to dive into the deep blue waters. Long lines of white waves splashed against the landscape where a lonely lighthouse stood to greet its visitors. My eyes followed the coast of Waikiki Beach lined with trees, sand, and various buildings and hotels.

view of Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head diamondhead lighthouseStanding there at an elevation of 761 feet, the air was pure of the pollution from down below and I slowly breathed in its crisp freshness, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face. I finally made it to the top after such an arduous climb, but the reward was worth each step of the staircases and through the dark tunnels. I couldn’t see the top from the parking lot where I started, but if I had already seen it and knew what to expect at the summit, would I have endured the hike? Maybe, but the sheer joy of my accomplishment and the thrill of the view would definitely have lost its appeal and awe-struck wonder. But if I had chosen something else to do that would’ve taken less effort and time, then I wouldn’t have discovered the courage, strength, perseverance, and hope within myself throughout the climb. I’ll never forget how cautious I was with my footing on the winding terrain or the pain in my legs and back climbing the steps or facing the fear of the dark in the tunnels or nursing the scrapes on my knees from crawling through the narrow openings.

I kept my focus on the goal, determined to endure the troubles and pain to reach the summit.  Before my journey, I stood on my toes in the middle of the parking lot, straining to see the top. I chose hope, knowing in my faith to take that first step, then another one, and keep on going toward my destination. I knew deep down inside my heart the reward of the climb would be great even though I couldn’t see the top or what the journey entailed to get there.


Think about some of the things you’ve endured to get to where you hoped to be. Did you endure struggles through the journey? Did you savor those small but amazing accomplishments along the way? Did you find yourself at the crossroad where you had to choose to keep going or turn around and go back? Did you discover things about yourself that you would never have known had you not decided to go on the journey? If you already seen or knew what to expect at the summit of your journey, would you have gone through with it?


In the many journeys we endure in our lives, taking that first step in each of them takes a lot of faith but we also have hope. “To hope is the way we are saved. But if we saw what you hoped for, there would no longer be hope: how can you hope for what is already seen? So, we hope for what we do not see and we will receive it through patient hope.” ~Romans 8:24-25


Sometimes there will be pain, loss, darkness, and fear in the journey, but believe in your faith – trust God – and stay strong in what you are hoping for – don’t give up. “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope. God’s loyal love is created new every morning. I’m sticking with God. He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.” ~ Lamentations 3:19-26.


Have faith – take that first step and then let God lead the rest of the way. Don’t give up and don’t quit. The hope you’re reaching for is worth the journey to get there!


arial view of Diamond Head








The red line is the hike from the parking lot to the summit of Diamond Head.











Chris and me with a good friend who was also our personal guide during our hike in 2005.

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