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Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Becoming a Seasoned Hiker

Free Download

We all know it—experience is the best teacher. The more you do something the better you become. The more you hike, the stronger your hiking muscles. And the greater your stamina and perseverance to reach your destination.

As you gain more experience in the different types of trails and difficulty, you become more confident in trekking through the woods. Instead of being capable of only doing an easy 1 mile stroll along a river, you’ll be able to hike a difficult 10 miler up a mountain with glorious views along the way. This is called training, and we need it in every area of our lives—including our walk with Christ.

Just as in hearing or reading about trail descriptions doesn’t get us into hiking shape, neither does gaining knowledge about this Christian life make us spiritually mature. Applying them consistently does.

By humbly accepting God’s path for you and exercising your faith and will “muscles,” you will become a seasoned mature hiker in God’s territory.

The more experience you get in trekking with God…

The more familiar you become in understanding His character and His ways. You’ll be better able to recognize His trail markers and remain on the right path.

The more you will learn to trust in Him as He proves Himself faithful. The more confident you become in your Trail Guide rather than in your own abilities.

The better you’ll become in dealing with the large boulders and stream crossings of life–becoming wise as to whether to go over, around, or via a different route. Obstacles will be seen as:

  • stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks
  • opportunities to learn and grow
  • wonderful challenges instead of drudgery

The more willing you’ll be to attempt difficult trails (=ministry opportunities) despite the hardships you know you will encounter on that path. You will see them as adventures—not hardships.

The more you will be rewarded with great sights of God’s beauty and glory; the greater your contentment and joy because you know you are pleasing your Guide.

The more you’ll be able to persevere and get back up when you fall; the less likely you’ll turn around or give up when you encounter tough areas.

The more you will be able to rest and relax, without fear of the unknown path ahead.

 

The more you’ll be able to enjoy the journey. To stop and appreciate the beautiful and interesting sights along the way—even though they pale in comparison to your ultimate destination.

(Just a few of the amazing things I’ve seen on my hikes)

The more you will take time to look back and see how far you’ve come and realize that this was indeed the best path to take.

The more you’ll understand that your Guide is less interested in your pace than in you staying on the right path, being with Him, and maturing.

And

The more your love and adoration of God will grow along with a closer intimacy with Him.

As a seasoned hiker you’ll be able to pass on your knowledge and experience to others. You’ll be able to show others the right and only trail, train them how to hike the difficult sections, and help them develop trust, adoration, and love for the One and only true Guide to our heavenly destination.

 

I want to take as many as I can to that magnificent glorious view up there! Will you join me in my trek upwards? There’s plenty of room on this non-crowded trail. And IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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

Free Download

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!

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons from Mt Ida

Free Download

There we were, 20 years ago hiking up Mount Ida in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It was a tough 5 mile trek up to the nearly 13,000′ peak—a significant climb even if you are in good shape, which Ed and I were back then. What made this hike especially difficult were the many large boulders we had to clamber over. With my short legs—well—you get the picture.

The rock scrambling really slowed us down. But we finally made it! The view at the top was spectacular with a 360° view. It was definitely worth the effort!

We rested, ate, and savored the glorious sight. Knowing we shouldn’t dilly dally, we reluctantly started downward. Colorado mountains are notorious for their afternoon thunderstorms and it was getting late.

Ed, being a wonderful protective husband, decided we would try a different route down to avoid the boulders. But then we lost the trail! Eventually he told me to stay put while he attempted to relocate the trail. When he got back, he said, panting “I have good news, and bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” I asked with hope in my voice.

“The good news is I found the trail. The bad news is there’s a storm brewing and the trail is that way,” as he pointed up to an area filled with boulders!

Well, it’s one thing to be psychologically geared up to ascend a mountain, but quite another to have to climb it again. Not to mention we were already weary from our journey. It was doubly hard.

We trudged along as quickly as we could. The sky got worse and soon it was raining. Fear gripped me as I envisioned twisting my ankle or falling over the rocks. Plus, we were above tree-line—on tundra, which meant we were the tallest things at that spot! So if lightning struck it would either hit Ed or me. It’s really kind of funny to think that this vertically challenged person of 5 foot was the second tallest thing on top of a mountain!

In addition to being frightened and exhausted, I was confused. That morning I had asked God if it was safe for us to go on such an arduous hike. I sensed that it was.

I cried out to God as I tried to surmount yet another large rock, “Should we not have gone, Lord? Did I misunderstand You? I thought You said it was safe for us to go.”

Suddenly I realized—we were still safe! I remembered the peace He had given me about this trip. Focusing on that kept me going instead of being paralyzed by fear.

Well, we did get back in 1 piece—shaken, spent, but safe.

~~~~~

What did I learn from this crazy experience?

  • Running into obstacles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a mistake.

And even if you did, you can learn from it. Life is full of obstacles. We can either climb over them, go around them, or be stopped by them. With the Lord you can make the right choice.

  • Choosing your own way—even with right motives, often leads to unnecessary pain and greater difficulty.

You must seek God’s way.

  • Your actions affect others.

Though well-meaning, Ed made a wrong decision. We both suffered. (Mind you, I never held it against my wonderful man.)

  • God is faithful and protects His own

—despite our weaknesses or wrong choices (Ps 103:14).

  • You can learn to recognize God’s leading.

I was right when I sensed that it was ok to go. I had “heard” God correctly. My confidence in discerning God’s way increased which gave me great peace.

 

So my friends, I hope you also will learn from your experiences. I would do this crazy adventure of 20 years ago all over again!

The splendid view, memories, and lessons were well worth it!

 

P.S. I AM going to be able to do it again! Going to Colorado this fall. I never dreamt it would have been possible!

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons Learned from Hiking

Free Download

As many of you know I love to hike, and I have learned many spiritual lessons as I’ve trampled along trails. Although trekking through life is probably an overused metaphor I’m going to use it anyway—from a hiker’s point of view.

Lesson #1 The Right trail

Just like you don’t want to wander through life, you need to pick a trail and follow the trail markers. Otherwise you’ll wind up meandering about, feeling lost and without purpose. You need a destination and a way to get there. But unlike other destinations, there is only one trail up to heaven. And that is through faith in Christ alone.

Lesson #2 Guidance and Help

Once you’re on the right trail, you’ll need guidance and enabling because it’s impossible to hike it alone. You’ve been given spiritual hiking boots—God’s grace and enabling. Put them on because the terrain ahead is rocky.

Next you are to follow the trail markers which are typically painted blazes on trees.

Without these you won’t know which way to go. Hiking to the top of a mountain is never in a straight line. If you go your way, you’ll run into unnecessary or insurmountable obstacles. The best way is the one on which your Trail Guide leads. He knows you will not follow perfectly, that you will sometimes wander off or even miss the trail blazes. But He wants you to try—to have a heart to go His way. He’s a very kind and understanding Leader.

Once I was on a trail that I had never been on before which turned out to be very poorly marked. The blazes were a dark purple within a white circle and sparse.

Often the white circle was missing, making it hard to see.

(VERY hard to see blaze here)

Not knowing where I am going is frightening to me, so this undefined trail robbed me of peace and enjoyment.

I often feel that way in my spiritual journey—especially in regards to running this ministry. Not knowing often causes me to drag my feet. I want to give up, turn around—anything except move ahead into unfamiliar territory.

But the unknown doesn’t have to steal our peace and joy! If we stay close to Him, with our eyes peeled for the next trail blaze, our wise and faithful Guide will show us the right way. We simply need to trust Him to give us all that we need for an enjoyable, though difficult, journey (see 2 Pet 1:3-4).

Now that I’ve learned to trust God more, I’m not quite as fearful with the uncertain future. When I do become anxious, I ask the Lord to please reveal the way. If I become desperate I cry, “I need another trail marker! Am I on the right path? Please show me!” Then when I see the next blaze, I am comforted and reassured.

If God doesn’t quickly present the way, I need to slow down or stop and reassess my situation; even backtrack a bit. Have I veered off the trail? Have I strayed by sinning? Did I miss a blaze by being so wrapped up in my own thoughts or distracted by the world around me?

We must stay alert and close to our Trail Guide. Then we won’t deviate off the trail too far.

Even so there will be times when the trail seems uncertain. Our Guide doesn’t promise to show us the mile up ahead—only the next step. Take that step in faith.

~~~~~

So my friends, make sure you’re on the right path, stay alert to God’s leading, and during those uncertain times—evaluate, backtrack, or just do what you know you need to do. And remember:

The Holy Spirit is guiding each of your steps, Jesus is walking right alongside you, and the Holy Father saying reassuringly, “This is the [right] way; walk in it.” (Ps 119:105, Mat 28:20, Is 30:21). 

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Becoming a Seasoned Hiker

Free Download

We all know it—experience is the best teacher. The more you do something the better you become. The more you hike, the stronger your hiking muscles. And the greater your stamina and perseverance to reach your destination.

As you gain more experience in the different types of trails and difficulty, you become more confident in trekking through the woods. Instead of being capable of only doing an easy 1 mile stroll along a river, you’ll be able to hike a difficult 10 miler up a mountain with glorious views along the way. This is called training, and we need it in every area of our lives—including our walk with Christ.

Just as in hearing or reading about trail descriptions doesn’t get us into hiking shape, neither does gaining knowledge about this Christian life make us spiritually mature. Applying them consistently does.

By humbly accepting God’s path for you and exercising your faith and will “muscles,” you will become a seasoned mature hiker in God’s territory.

The more experience you get in trekking with God:

  • The more familiar you become in understanding His character and His ways. You’ll be better able to recognize His trail markers and remain on the right path.

  • The more you will learn to trust in Him as He proves Himself faithful. The more confident you become in your Trail Guide rather than in your own abilities.
  • The better you’ll become in dealing with the large boulders and stream crossings of life. Becoming wise as to whether to go over, around, or via a different route. Obstacles will be seen as:
    • stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks
    • opportunities to learn and grow
    • wonderful challenges instead of drudgery.
  • The more willing you’ll be to attempt difficult trails (=ministry opportunities) despite the hardships you know you will encounter on that path. You will see them as adventures—not hardships.

  • The more you will be rewarded with great sights of God’s beauty and glory; the greater your contentment and joy because you know you are pleasing your Guide.
  • The more you’ll be able to persevere and get back up when you fall; the less likely you’ll turn around or give up when you encounter tough areas.

  • The more you will be able to rest and relax, without fear of the unknown path ahead.

  • The more you’ll be able to enjoy the journey. To stop and appreciate the beautiful and interesting sights along the way—even though they pale in comparison to your ultimate destination.

  • The more you will take time to look back and see how far you’ve come and realize that this was indeed the best path to take.
  • The more you’ll understand that your Guide is less interested in your pace than in you staying on the right path, being with Him, and maturing.
  • The more your love and adoration of God will grow along with a closer intimacy with Him.

As a seasoned hiker you’ll be able to pass on your knowledge and experience to others. You’ll be able to show others the right and only trail, train them how to hike the difficult sections, and help them develop trust, adoration, and love for the One and only true Guide to our heavenly destination.

I want to take as many as I can to that magnificent glorious view up there! Will you join me in my trek upwards? There’s plenty of room on this non-crowded trail. And IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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

Free Download

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. 

  • 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.

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.

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons from Mt Ida

Free Download

There we were, 20 years ago hiking up Mount Ida in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It was a tough 5 mile trek up to the nearly 13,000′ peak—a significant climb even if you are in good shape which Ed and I were back then. What made this hike especially difficult were the many large boulders we had to clamber over. With my short legs—well—you get the picture.

The rock scrambling really slowed us down. But we finally made it! The view at the top was spectacular with a 360° view. It was definitely worth the effort!

We rested, ate, and savored the glorious sight. Knowing we shouldn’t dilly dally, we reluctantly started downward. Colorado mountains are notorious for their afternoon thunderstorms and it was getting late.

Ed, being a wonderful protective husband, decided we would try a different route down to avoid the boulders. But then we lost the trail! Eventually he told me to stay put while he attempted to relocate the trail. When he got back, he said, panting “I have good news, and bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” I asked with hope in my voice.

“The good news is I found the trail. The bad news is there’s a storm brewing and the trail is that way,” as he pointed up to an area filled with boulders!

Well, it’s one thing to be psychologically geared up to ascend a mountain, but quite another to have to climb it again. Not to mention we were already weary from our journey. It was doubly hard.

We trudged along as quickly as we could. The sky got worse and soon it was raining. Fear gripped me as I envisioned twisting my ankle or falling over the rocks. Plus, we were above tree-line—on tundra, which meant we were the tallest things at that spot! So if lightning struck it would either hit Ed or me. It’s really kind of funny to think that this vertically challenged person of 5 foot was the second tallest thing on top of a mountain!

In addition to being frightened and exhausted, I was confused. That morning I had asked God if it was safe for us to go on such an arduous hike. I sensed that it was.

I cried out to God as I tried to surmount yet another large rock, “Should we not have gone, Lord? Did I misunderstand You? I thought You said it was safe for us to go.”

Suddenly I realized—we were still safe! I remembered the peace He had given me about this trip. Focusing on that kept me going instead of being paralyzed by fear.

Well, we did get back in 1 piece—shaken, spent, but safe.

~~~~~

What did I learn from this crazy experience?

  • Running into obstacles doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a mistake.

And even if you did, you can learn from it. Life is full of obstacles. We can either climb over them, go around them, or be stopped by them. With the Lord you can make the right choice.

  • Choosing your own way—even with right motives, often leads to unnecessary pain and greater difficulty.

You must seek God’s way.

  • Your actions affect others.

Though well-meaning, Ed made a wrong decision. We both suffered. (Mind you, I never held it against my wonderful man.)

  • God is faithful and protects His own

—despite our weaknesses or wrong choices (Ps 103:14).

  • You can learn to recognize God’s leading.

I was right when I sensed that it was ok to go. I had “heard” God correctly. My confidence in discerning God’s way increased which gave me great peace.

 

So my friends, I hope you also will learn from your experiences. I would do this crazy adventure of 20 years ago all over again!

The splendid view, memories, and lessons were well worth it!

Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons Learned from Hiking

Free Download

As many of you know I love to hike, and I have learned many spiritual lessons as I’ve trampled along trails. Although trekking through life is probably an overused metaphor I’m going to use it anyway—from a hiker’s point of view.

Lesson #1 The Right trail

Just like you don’t want to wander through life, you need to pick a trail and follow the trail markers. Otherwise you’ll wind up meandering about, feeling lost and without purpose. You need a destination and a way to get there. But unlike other destinations, there is only one trail up to heaven. And that is through faith in Christ alone.

Lesson #2 Guidance and Help

Once you’re on the right trail, you’ll need guidance and enabling because it’s impossible to hike it alone. You’ve been given spiritual hiking boots—God’s grace and enabling. Put them on because the terrain ahead is rocky.

Next you are to follow the trail markers which are typically painted blazes on trees.

Without these you won’t know which way to go. Hiking to the top of a mountain is never in a straight line. If you go your way, you’ll run into unnecessary or insurmountable obstacles. The best way is the one on which your Trail Guide leads. He knows you will not follow perfectly, that you will sometimes wander off or even miss the trail blazes. But He wants you to try—to have a heart to go His way. He’s a very kind and understanding Leader.

Once I was on a trail that I had never been on before which turned out to be very poorly marked. The blazes were a dark purple within a white circle and sparse.

Often the white circle was missing, making it hard to see.

(VERY hard to see blaze here)

Not knowing where I am going is frightening to me, so this undefined trail robbed me of peace and enjoyment.

I often feel that way in my spiritual journey—especially in regards to running this ministry. Not knowing often causes me to drag my feet. I want to give up, turn around—anything except move ahead into unfamiliar territory.

But the unknown doesn’t have to steal our peace and joy! If we stay close to Him, with our eyes peeled for the next trail blaze, our wise and faithful Guide will show us the right way. We simply need to trust Him to give us all that we need for an enjoyable, though difficult, journey (see 2 Pet 1:3-4).

Now that I’ve learned to trust God more, I’m not quite as fearful with the uncertain future. When I do become anxious, I ask the Lord to please reveal the way. If I become desperate I cry, “I need another trail marker! Am I on the right path? Please show me!” Then when I see the next blaze, I am comforted and reassured.

If God doesn’t quickly present the way, I need to slow down or stop and reassess my situation; even backtrack a bit. Have I veered off the trail? Have I strayed by sinning? Did I miss a blaze by being so wrapped up in my own thoughts or distracted by the world around me?

We must stay alert and close to our Trail Guide. Then we won’t deviate off the trail too far.

Even so there will be times when the trail seems uncertain. Our Guide doesn’t promise to show us the mile up ahead—only the next step. Take that step in faith.

~~~~~

So my friends, make sure you’re on the right path, stay alert to God’s leading, and during those uncertain times—evaluate, backtrack, or just do what you know you need to do. And remember:

The Holy Spirit is guiding each of your steps, Jesus is walking right alongside you, and the Holy Father saying reassuringly, “This is the [right] way; walk in it.” (Ps 119:105, Mat 28:20, Is 30:21). 

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