Putting on our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Crossing the Streams of Life

Early on in our hiking days Ed and I seldom encountered stream crossings—until we started hiking the Smokies.

On one such trail, we encountered many of these streams. And they were much bigger than I was used to! My fear of slipping and seriously getting hurt made me want to turn around. I had never learned how to navigate my way across these kinds of streams.

But Ed reassured this scaredy cat and taught me how to safely cross. He went first. Told me exactly where to place my feet and showed me how to use a stick for balance and stability. He discipled me in “Stream Crossing 101.”

As we continued on our trek up, we ran into more and more of these creeks. Then we came to an even bigger one. I was scared, but not terrified. I had gained enough confidence to venture forth under Ed’s wise direction. Halfway through I slipped and fell in the water. I was stunned—literally. I just sat there, dazed in the cold water. Ed’s shouting, “Get up, get up!” Finally roused from my bewildered state, I finished crossing over to dry ground. My jeans were soaked!

We decided to continue on. We really should have turned around. Jeans don’t dry out that quickly in fall weather and it was getting cloudier. However, this trail was one of our friend’s favorite hikes and we didn’t want to miss out. We had already traveled at least two thirds of the way.

Then it began to rain. Still we trudged on (actually I sloshed). By the time we got near the top it was sleeting. The trail had narrowed making our legs brush against ice-laden myrtle bushes. Now both our pants were wet and chilled. On top of that there was no view. We were encompassed by a cloud.

At long last, we turned around. The only thing that kept me going were visions of a hot Jacuzzi and a warm fireplace.

I learned many things from this experience.

  • We can learn how to overcome obstacles with a bit of training.

We need others on our spiritual walk with Christ, to encourage and show us the way to navigate through difficulties. I hope you have a coach or mentor.

  • Fear doesn’t have to make us turn around and rob us of enjoyment and accomplishment.

(A much needed repeated lesson for me!)

  • Experience in crossing the streams of life will help us to face future obstacles.

We will gain confidence as we go through difficulties.

  • Beware of becoming overconfident.

We must always recognize our need of God and depend on Him—not our own abilities (2 Cor 3:4-5). 

  • When—not if—we fall, we must get back up.

The consequences of staying down could be quite serious.

  • Keeping the end in sight helps us to persevere.

We need to keep our eternal destination at the forefront of our minds. (See Heb 10:36-39)

But perhaps the biggest thing I gleaned from this experience is that

  • We need wisdom as well as perseverance.

Sometimes it is right to keep going in the same direction; not to let obstacles or negative situations stop our pursuit. Ed and I really wanted to reach our destination, so we kept going. Perseverance is good.

However, in this case, we allowed our desires to interfere with sound judgement. We should have turned around earlier, and retry the trail another time under more favorable conditions. We caused ourselves unnecessary pain.

We must re-evaluate our walk with God and confirm that we are still on the path He has designated.


After our experience, Ed and I always had a good laugh whenever we encountered even the slightest water obstacle. Even now, I smile in fond memory while crossing a stream for the many times Ed—and the Lord—helped me through life’s stream crossings.

Until next time, my friends, remember that obstacles are simply opportunities to learn!