Have You Ever Watched the Sunrise From the Top of a Volcano?

It’s 2 a.m. in Maui, Hawaii.

My wife and I are sluggishly waiting for the bus to pick us up outside of our hotel as we rub the sleep from our eyes.

“Remind me who’s idea this was?” Even if my mumble was audible, I don’t expect Liz to answer. I know she’s half asleep too.

As the bus pulls up, we step on and join a group of twenty other sleepy-eyed passengers. Our destination is the top of a volcano; a two-hour, 30-mile journey from sea level to 10,000 feet.

When we arrived, we stepped off the bus into another world. Tropical temperatures have dropped to near freezing and the crisp, cloudless night sky is illuminated with stars. Countless stars.

One of the group directors grabs a flashlight and leads us to a railing. “This is the best spot for pictures,” he whispers to me.

All I saw was a black abyss and endless sea of darkness. The only visible feature is our own breath as it collides with the cold air. For a moment, I wonder if the light will ever come.

Then, very slowly, something begins to happen. The sun begins its process of awakening.

First light at Haleakala

Awakening at Haleakala (The bright star is Venus)

Three years ago, Liz and I had the awesome experience to go to Maui, Hawaii, as part of my company’s Round Table; an incentive-based rewards trip for top-producing agents. It was a chance to remember what it was like before kids, to rekindle some time together and live.

The first few days were a rude awakening. Jet lag had us up at 2 a.m. We had no idea how to shake it or what to do at that hour, so we started researching online and found a company that provided a sunrise trip.

This wasn’t any sunrise tour. It was a 10,000-foot climb, by bus, to the top of Haleakala, Maui’s largest inactive volcano.

The best part?

Rather than riding the bus back down, the company provided heavy-duty bicycles and you didn’t even have to pedal.

Who doesn’t want to ride a bicycle down a volcano?

Bucket list, check.

Haleakala means “House of the Sun,” and that morning, I was in its house.

Unimaginable colors began to illuminate the darkness. Deep purples turned a faint orange as the sun began moving below the horizon. It was inching toward magnificence.

As light filled the void, we began to see the 7-mile-wide volcano crater in front of us, and by the time the sun had risen, we were breathless and standing on top of the world. I’ve never been in closer contact with the beauty of a sunrise than in that moment.

As the sun illuminated the world around me, it was as if I was seeing with new eyes.

Everything I’d read in the Bible about light and darkness started to make more sense.

Haleakala Rise

Have you ever experienced something beautiful? A moment that causes you to stop as you see something larger than yourself at work around you?

I use the picture I took that day at Haleakala on my website. A reminder of my moment.

The reality is, it doesn’t have to be the sunrise over a volcano. Life is full of these rich moments.

It can be an act of service to your spouse after a long day with the kids. It can be a smile exchanged by a father and son as they read a book before bed. It can be the courtesy of holding the door and welcoming a complete stranger. It is in these moments when our light shines. The richness within us becomes visible.

For the longest time, I failed to see those moments.

Either I didn’t know how to define them or I found myself getting caught up in what we loosely refer to as “Real Life.” You know, that place where moments like being on Haleakala at sunrise exist in movies and in the lives of others, but never my own.

Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t allow someone else define what rich is for you. Define it for yourself. I believe you’ll find:

Being rich has far more to do with your heart than your wallet.

To help you begin this process, I’m inviting you to think of three moments in the past month that speak of richness to you.

Write them down and how they made you feel. Share them below or on social media with #RedefineRich

Here are mine:

        1. Sharing a special conversation with my son before bedtime
        2. Holding the door for an elderly lady and hearing her say, “It’s nice to see there are still gentlemen around.”
        3. A conversation with my doctor during my skin cancer surgery

Start defining richness by telling us your moments.

Question: How can you create moments that help you redefine richness today?


As we continue our journey to redefine richness, I invite you to come along. 

You can enter your email address and stay up-to-date on new articles. 

Also, my eBook "I Am Here: Becoming Unbroken" is yours for free. If you enjoy, I invite you to share!

It's an honor to walk along with you! 

Thanks again for stopping by! 


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9 Responses to Have You Ever Watched the Sunrise From the Top of a Volcano?

  1. Chris Adams February 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I loved your post… Thank you for reminding us to hang onto special moments & mark them down. I would like to share three ” rich ” moments I had this month.
    1. Hearing my eight year old daughter say ” Daddy I want to be an insurance agent like you & I don’t even know what life insurance is “.
    2. My 22 year old son saying ” dad, I love you. Thank you for all you have done for me. I know life has not been easy with me “.
    3. Building a snowman with my two daughters & hearing them say ” daddy, you are the best daddy “.
    That was good for my soul…… that is real life!

    • Matt Ham February 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

      Man Chris – what awesome moments for you to share! Thanks so much!

  2. Marsha Ingrao February 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Glorious picture and story, Matt. Good luck with your book! I’ll help however I can. I’m hoping to have one out about that time, too. Maybe a little later. I got the link for this off of My 500 words.

  3. Laura February 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    It’s about perspective. I also call these rich moments “pockets of joy”. They are good gifts from the Father sprinkled throughout a day. 3 recent ones:
    1. receiving a letter in the mail full of the encouragement I needed
    2. hearing & watching my nephew grow & learn more new words
    3. seeing kids in Sunday school start to grasp Truth in Bible stories
    And the great thing is finding joy in small moments opens us to see even more blessings!

    • Matt Ham February 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Laura what awesome experiences! Aren’t letters the best? And watching a child grow and learn God’s truth and love?

      • Laura February 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

        yes and yes! 🙂

  4. Dan Black February 28, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    That must have been an amazing experience! I’ve found special memories happen in the every day activities. Great post!

    • Matt Ham February 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Hey Dan! I’d LOVE to hear some of those stories! By the way – did you hear we’re re – launching tomorrow??


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