I'm a hiker. This pastime nourishes my soul and brings me great personal fulfillment. It is a passion of mine.
Being immersed in nature, as I trek along scenic, winding mountain trails with my hiking buddies, is a life-giving and re-creative experience to me. There is nothing else that quite compares to it.
I’ve been given the nickname, “Trailblazer,” and—to be perfectly honest—I am proud of this designation. God has blessed me with stamina and walking speed in spite of my skinny chicken legs, which I was terribly self-conscious of as a child.
To me, hiking is akin to walking with God. When I am on the trail, I embrace a different mindset. Praying feels more natural, rhythmic, and conversational than usual. The combined effect of planning and preparing for trips, breathing fresh mountain air, beholding stunning vistas, engaging in unforced small-talk along the trail, putting my physical strength and mental toughness to the test, setting up camps among the trees, cooking simple meals, and warming up by the campfire while being hypnotized by its glow and crackle coalesces to create a powerful and transformative encounter with Mother Nature, self, others, and God.
To me, the Christian life is similar to hiking in the mountains with its various complex pieces and dynamics. There are ebbs and flows, highs and lows, forward movement and unanticipated detours, starts and stops, ascents and descents, hard work and rest, weariness and second-winds, give and take, structure and spontaneity, and predictability and surprises.
And sometimes there is getting a little lost and struggling to find one’s way back to the right path leading to the intended destination of heaven. But, it’s a matter of direction, not perfection!
When preparing for a multi-day hike in the mountains, several factors must be taken into consideration. Trail maps should be studied, specific plans (and contingency plans) devised and organized, itineraries and manifests communicated with one’s hiking companions, weather forecasts explored, and safety issues considered. Then technical gear needs to be assembled and inspected, organized, and placed in one’s backpack using a thorough checklist.
When hiking in small groups (which is my usual practice), many of these items are distributed among the members to avoid redundancy and share the load. Galatians 6:2 (ESV) says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
All the time, one cannot afford to over-pack so as to be burdened with extra weight and unnecessary items. Disciples must remember to pack light for our journey, because we can’t take our material possessions with us into eternity.
Christians—like hikers—need to take sufficient time and necessary effort to adequately prepare for the journey ahead. And we cannot accomplish this task alone. It requires a cooperative approach. We need each other’s help, edification and teaching, emotional support, and sometimes correction and redirection.
But one more thing must be stated: it is critically important to remain hydrated with God’s living water along the trail through personal reflection and practice of spiritual disciplines, lest rapid dehydration sets in. Only time spent alone with God and time in fellowship with spiritual brothers and sisters is able to quench one’s thirst. As a Christian, failure to do so will result in dry, meaningless, and ineffectual walk.
There are sometimes warnings and caution signs for hikers along the trail regarding potentially unsafe areas or postings regarding private property that is off-limits or that requires prior permission to enter.
In Christianity, the New Testament provides us with God’s instructions for a faithful walk with the Lord. Ethics and morality are addressed in detail. Just as a compass (or GPS) is an essential piece of equipment for a hiker to carry, so is a “moral compass” for a Christian.
Facebook: His Heart, My Hands