We were young and adventurous. It was our vacation and we were going to explore and experience every thing the Smokey Mountains had to offer.
Mountain Hikes, the brochure said.
We picked the trail that we felt best suited our physical abilities, packed our snacks, and donned our walking shoes.
Adventure was looming before us.
The trail started off smooth and pleasant.
"How wonderful to be young and in shape," my mind thought.
Within a matter of minutes the path veered off the broad way and became a little more narrow. The broad path had a sign that read "If you are pregnant, have heart conditions or back pain, go this way."
Our trail went the other direction.
For some strange reason that I cannot fathom, I did not hear the blaring sirens of reason and wisdom. Age and experience have taught me different.
"Now comes the fun stuff!" he said.
I looked up to see a rather steep ascent to more mountains.
That's funny. I would have thought it was time for our little picnic in the woods.
Ha! Funny is exactly right!
What was once a leisurely pace became a grueling climb.
Not many people came this way. I noticed that before the path was trodden down and well worn. I remember looking down to wonder if we had missed the trail, but every time I wasn't sure there was sign to direct us.
What once was fun now became arduous.
Now rocks were in the way and I began stumbling and tripping. He suggested we stop for a moment to catch our breath and take a break. I suggested we just turn around now and forget the whole stupid idea!
He said that if we did that we wouldn't make it to the top to see the spectacular view the brochure assured us was "breathtaking".
Breathtaking was exactly right! But I didn't have to get to the top for my breath to be gone!
With words of encouragement that sounded a little like cattle prodding, he convinced me to continue with him. "He would help me~ walk in front of me and show me where to step."
Reluctantly I followed.
"But can't we eat our snack now?" I whined.
He "suggested" we wait.
Somehow, this was not what I had anticipated. I wasn't finding the joy or adventure or the exhilaration of it. At. All.!
My thighs and hinder parts were on fire!
That was the first time I remembered I had muscles there!
He grabbed my hand and encouraged me on. With him pulling me a little, it took some pressure off of a few muscles.
A l-o-n-g while later it seemed, the clearing was in view. But~ I had been fooled before, so I didn't get my hopes up.
He jogged a little ahead of me to see if it really was the "peak". He returned with excitement and encouragement. "Come on! It's just ahead and you are going to love the view!"
I followed the path that widened, finally, and glimpsed at the clearing before me.
A gasp escaped my wheezing.
It was breathtaking! It was worth it!
And..... I was glad I didn't turn back when the going got tough.
We found a comfortable place for our little picnic and enjoyed the view much more because it took so much effort to get to it.
Hmmmm.... life lessons in a national park brochure.......
Hosea 14:9 says,
"Who is wise? he will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous will walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them."
My question for us today is: Will I walk or will I stumble?