Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 27, 2010

A Short Hike

Last week my husband and I took a short hike on a trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A sign at the beginning of the trailhead indicated that the farthest site, the upper falls, was 1.6 miles away. So off we headed, expecting probably a 45-60 minute round-trip hike. There were several trails winding through the area that interconnected and led to various points of interest. At each trail intersection there were markers that identified the directions for each trail and the degree of difficulty; however, there were no mileage indicators at the different points.

We headed down the trail to the first site which was not far from the parking lot. Then we ventured farther to the lower falls which was a little more challenging (at least coming back), but pretty much what we expected. Then we came to two markers. One pointed to the left to the upper falls, a trail marked easy. The other marker pointed toward a trail headed more uphill and was marked as moderately strenuous. Okay that was an easy decision – we headed toward the falls on the easy trail!

Since this trail was supposed to be only 1.6 miles from the parking lot, we thought it couldn’t be very far. But 30 minutes later we were still walking. We had completely left the stream and this easy trail became rutted, overgrown, and a veritable obstacle course with jagged rocks and bulging tree roots. At certain points we thought we were surely getting close when the trail would suddenly switch and meander off in a different direction. We maneuvered up and down, over and around, on and on and on and on. How much farther could it be?

Even more alarming was the fact that we didn’t see any other people. When we had arrived earlier at the trailhead, the parking lot was full of vehicles and we met several groups of people on the trail. However, the farther we hiked this direction, the more it seemed that we were all by ourselves. Occasionally, we heard voices in the distance, but they, too, just seemed to float away. And like really good experienced hikers, we had left our water in the car along with my allergic husband’s bee sting kit. Since we had no idea how close or far away we were, what should we do? Should we continue on or turn around and head back? If we turned around, we would never know how close we might be. Perhaps it was just around the next bend. So on we went, each step becoming something of a commitment to keep on trudging.

As I plodded along the narrow trail behind my husband, I found myself thinking how this trail was a lot like life. Sometimes our lives are smooth and easy just like the first part of the trail we hiked. But at other times, because of one thing or another, they can become rocky and difficult. Sometimes our path is clear and straight. We know where we’re going and exactly how to get there. Then again, our view may be limited and our pathway unclear and we stumble along trying to find our way. And just as having no water or my husband’s bee sting kit made our path more difficult and worrisome, so, too, choices we make in life can contribute to some of the problems we face.

But as we stubbornly refused to turn back (in hopes that we were almost there), we also reaped blessings – rustling leaves and gentle breezes that cooled and protected us from the hot sun, buzzing bees that were more interested in the numerous wildflowers than in us, a pack of almonds in a pocket that gave us a little extra boost of energy, and a beautiful landscape nestled in towering mountains that reminded us that God who created it all was right there on that trail with us. And just at the right time, He sent two people our way to encourage us and tell us we were almost there! We fairly bounded the remaining distance and were rewarded with trickling falls, huge rocks where we could rest, and a cool mountain stream.

And isn’t that true with life, too? Even when we’re facing difficulties, we can discover blessings as God surrounds us in various ways with His presence. God is not an absent God. He is God with us! The book of Psalms attests to the wonder and peace of knowing that fact. The following references are just a few that remind us of this ever-present God who is always watching out for us.

He is our refuge (Psalm 9:9).

He is our strength, our shield, our rock and deliverer. (Psalm 18:1-2).

He is our support (Psalm 18:18).

He is our shepherd (Psalm 23:1).

He is our salvation (Psalm 27:1).

He is our hiding place (Psalm 32:7).

He is our helper (Psalm 46:1).

He is our guide (Psalm 48:14).

He is our defender (Psalm 59:9).

He is our shelter (Psalm 61:3).

 

Thankfully, we discovered that we didn’t have to hike the whole way out that we had hiked in, but were able to pick up a loop halfway back that brought us back to the parking lot. Yet we found that the way back, even on the original path, didn’t seem nearly as difficult. We knew the way, then. We knew where we were going. In life we may not always have the assurance of knowing that, but we can have the assurance that God knows the way and He is there with us. What more could we need? But next time, He told me I should take some water!

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