October 18, 2015

Hiking on Life's Trail Pt. 2 - THROW THE ROCK!

Although it was the shortest, it was the toughest of the three hikes - in a couple of ways.  There was definitely elevation gain. The last part of the trek was steep and had loose footing.  It was perilous enough for several signs to be posted - "Enjoy! Hike at own risk" and " Use hand holds on side wall". 
During this particular hike, the journey conversation was ... deeper maybe even tough.  It was Conversation in which we poured out experiences and thoughts that we carried in the depths of our hearts.  There were insights given, that came from each other and ourselves in the quiet moments.
As we sat at the summit of the hike we shared a few realizations.
On our individual journeys on Life's Trail we each carried burdens.   All of us do.

Burden.  A load; a weight; an obligation; that which is borne with difficulty; a hardship; trouble; worry; an affliction; a sorrow; a trial; a grievance.

These burdens came from life situations; hurts that time brought or were inflicted along the trail or personal fears and anxieties.
We realized however, that there were some burdens we had been carrying that maybe we shouldn't have had to bear. 
They were actually things in which we had picked up baggage that wasn't meant for us to hold... guilt, failures that weren't ours, fear, intimidation of others that manifested in anxiety, hurts held on to, urges to fix things that weren't ours to fix... so much more.
Each of us saw things that we had added to our weight -  responsibilities assumed, hindrances accepted or hardships actually chosen!  What a revelation!  Actually having it brought into complete focus that we really didn't have to carry or take on these identifiable burdens.
At that moment we decided to pick up visible and tangible representations of each of those identifiable burdens, and literally release them  -  by throwing them over the edge of our summit.

We still possessed our own burdens but we rejoiced that we didn't have to bear the full weight.  as two passages from the Word came to mind.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).  By sharing our hidden hurts, fears, and feelings we eased our individual loads and knowing that each of us are supported through the others prayers and love on this journey called life.

"Cast your burdens on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
There is One who will bear our burdens if we are willing to lay them before Him.  And this is exactly what we did.  We left those things weights symbolically in the form of a cairn - each stone a burden placed before the Father.  For me that pile of rocks serves as a trail marker in life's journey, a reminder that the resting place for my burdens isn't on my shoulders but rather  with the Lord. 

My prayer for you today is that you recognize those burdens, those rocks, that you may have picked up along life's trail that aren't meant for you to carry. THROW THE ROCK!
Let that baby go and let it fly!  Then carry the burdens that are yours straight to the One who gives rest - the One who truly cares to the point of bearing what is laid before Him.

 Psalm 68:19  Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Exodus 33:14 - And He said, "My presence will go with  you, and I will give  you rest."
Psalms 62:8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

October 14, 2015

Hiking Life's Trail

Recently I was blessed to reunite with two very dear friends after many years.  We have spent those years living in different parts of the country.  Time and distance; the busyness of daily life with families; the experiencing of life events; and other life circumstance often intervened or distracted us from frequent contact.  We were fortunate to spend several days together  - in the desert of all places!  Each day, time was taken for what became our most enjoyable activity ... hiking.

Yes, it was a great way to fit in exercise (we managed our 10,00 steps each day). 

Yes, it was a great way to discover and appreciate the beauty of the desert.

But it became something deeper.

During our time together J, our friend who was from the area, led the way. Being from the area, she knew the lay of the land; made sure we got to the proper trailhead and started down the right trail; led us through the unfamiliar territory; encouraged us; took care of us and made sure we had what was needed ("drink your water! you dehydrate so much faster in the desert"); pointed out dangers we maybe were unaware of (ever heard of a "jumping cholla"?)  and helped us appreciate the local beauty. We obviously put our trust in her lead which took some of the unknown away and maybe put a fear or two (tarantulas and snakes) at ease.  This really helped us appreciate where we were and made the journey all that more enjoyable.  She was a great guide.

 For over two decades we had each faced our individual journeys on the trail of life.  As we hiked the desert miles together, we had the time to share the landmarks on our individual trails. 
Those landmarks had consisted of challenges (health issues, death, sorrows, concerns) and joys (accomplishments, celebrations, grace in the midst of trial). 
As we shared these journeys, both our individual and the present hiking experiences, it became apparent that we had another Guide. 

Guide.  A counselor.  Leader.  Mentor.  Pilot.  Advisor.  Chaperone.  Director.  Example.  A scout.  A Navigator. Our Pathfinder.

Our Guide was present for each of us in the midst of our individual journeys and He was very present as we shared our time reconnecting with each other renewing not only our friendships but our spirits wearied by life's trail. 

Presently, our time together was led.  Our individual anticipations, hesitations, anxieties and perhaps fears of reconnection after more than two decades were unfamiliar territory through which we literally provided for and led.  We were given what we so obviously needed - moments brought up at the right time to be able to share some hard challenges or hurts we had traveled through; moments appeared that encouraged us to revisit paths of fear and doubt we had or were presently facing; and moments to share joys that had us celebrating and laughing - at times uncontrollably.  Through our time in the desert and our Guide's presence we were able to trust his path finding skills and went places and found ways to mark healing, encouragement, and the renewal we now had and will continue.

So now we return to our individual trails.  We still face what lies ahead. But we possess a new found consciousness and intentional awareness.  We will never again feel like we are traveling without each other's companionship.  And more importantly, our Guide is with us.  Always present.  Even though at times we cannot see what lies ahead; or we are unaware of dangers; or we feel at a loss coming to crossroads; or we feel exhausted and may not be able to discern what we really need; - our Guide is there helping us navigate; giving us encouragement; covering our needs.

It is my prayer for you as you hike life's trail to become conscious of this trustworthy Guide, be intentional aware of His Presence.  He is trustworthy.  And through Him, the beauty of the hike can be truly appreciated and recognized.


The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness
In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.