My family and I went on an impromptu hike. Now, if you know my family well, you know we don’t belong on a PLANNED hike… much less a no supplies, no water, flip-flop wearing… impromptu hike. We are more of your leisurely stroll in the park with 2 scoops of our favorite ice-cream piled high on a sugar cone kind of a family. We definitely belong in the fitISH category.
Having been in the car all day, we noticed cars lined up alongside the road. Needing to stretch our legs we pulled off the road to see what all the fuss was about. A sign that read “Stillhouse Hollow Falls” beckoned to us. The kids have never seen a waterfall! This would be FUN!
Not far into the trail, we saw a sign that read 0.7 Falls, 0.3 Overlook, and 0.2 Trail. Wow! This is OUR kind of trail! Not too far and beautiful scenery promised at the end. Encouraged, we walked on!
We were accompanied by others on the trail. I, being the observant one, began to notice their choice of footwear and gear. Hiking shoes and water packs. I was starting to get a wee-bit nervous that my trusty Teva flip-flops were not appropriate! (Not to mention, my son was walking in broken shoes, because apparently, on a long road trip, picking your shoes apart is a fun way to pass the time). Seeing the concerned look on my face, a fellow hiker smiled at me and encouragingly said through gasps of air, “It’s ok! You got this!” Um… Your words tell me one thing, but your shortness of breath is conveying quite a different message! Yet, we walked on.
That’s when my husband and I saw them. A young, FIT couple on their way back from where we were heading. The young man stopped and bent over gasping for air. My husband and I just stared at one another. It suddenly registered with us what we were doing! We decided this hike was over and it was time to take our family back to the safety of our car and our air conditioning.
We had only gone about 0.3 miles down the trail. D.O.W.N the trail. Yes, the trail had been completely downhill. It had given us the complete misconception that our unprepared family could successfully complete this hike. Then we looked UP. On the way back UP my husband made the observation, “Isn’t it crazy. We are NOT that far from our car. Incline makes a huge difference. 0.3 miles on flat ground would be nothing.”
That’s the thing about going downhill. The steps are easy and the lack of exertion makes you feel as if you can easily return. Then, you turn around.
There is no such thing as a “short distance” when we walk away from God. Every step we take away from God is downhill. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said, “We are all one weak moment away from destroying our lives.” It’s a sobering reality and it is profound truth. Intentional living is necessary because when we take off on “impromptu hikes” we can find ourselves grossly unprepared and desperately in need.
When we find ourselves heading down the wrong path and we turn around with a repentant heart we can often time be discouraged with the reality that God asks us to still CLIMB back UP with Him. Not TO Him… but WITH Him. The breathtaking reality is, the very moment we cry out to Him, he is there. He arrives with an appropriate pair of tennis shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, a visor, water, and then He extends His merciful hand and looks deeps in our eyes and says “You ready!?!”
The reality of our glorious God is that He climbs WITH us. It is in the struggle of the climb back up that He knows we will gain strength and build stamina. So be encouraged today, friend, if you find yourself out of breath and tired. Because sometimes… He even chooses to carry you on the way back UP.
When they suffered, he suffered also. He sent his own angel to save them, because of his love and kindness, he saved them. Since long ago he has picked them up and carried them.
– Isaiah 63:9
Erica Pearson, firstname.lastname@example.org