I was recently given the opportunity to do some hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains. We had decided we wanted to see Rainbow Falls, which boasted of dazzling rainbows if you were fortunate to be there as the sunlight hits the water cascading from a high drop.
The trail map claimed the trail we needed to take was only 2.7 miles long one way, and it was labeled as “strenuous.” I scoffed; my weekly trips to my air-conditioned local gym for my 30-minute jog on the treadmill had surely prepared me for this moment. Strenuous was nothing! A little bit of stretching and we were off!
It only took about five minutes into the trip for me to realize that perhaps this trail was slightly more strenuous than I expected. My breath was heavy and my heart was racing as I slowly trudged up the mountainside. The trail was strewn with large rocks, exposed tree roots and damp leaves. In order to not trip or fall, I had to keep focused on what was in front of me. Occasionally I would glance forward to survey the path and consider where to step next. A false step meant slipping and sliding, due to unexpected mud puddles. As focused as I was on my steps, I did not get the opportunity to enjoy my surroundings as much as I would have liked. But occasionally we would stop and admire a flower or the mountain spring or the way the sun reflects off the leaves. And then, onward we trudged, ever closer to our destination. Finally, about two hours later, we arrived at Rainbow Falls and stood in wonder at the magnificent sight of water rolling over rocks and falling some 75 feet before hitting the bottom. It was worth every agonizing step.
Our walk as Christian women is similar to my experience on the mountain. Perhaps the difficulty is not quite apparent when we start, but we quickly learn. And, as we walk the path, we must keep our head down, watching our steps, making sure not to trip or stumble or step in a puddle. Solomon talked about this, in fact, saying, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established” (Proverbs 4:25–26). As we hike our own personal mountains, we must give careful thought to our daily steps. We are busy, whether we are mothers, wives or career women. But despite our busyness, we must make God a priority through prayer, bible study, fasting and meditation. In the wee hours of the morning, we must look forward in our day to make time for God. We must also look forward on our path to see if our choices and decisions could negatively impact us, our husbands, our children or others in our lives.
Are we focused on our destination? As I hiked that trail, I could not become distracted by my surroundings without risking injury or a very muddy shoe. In my Christian walk, I also must make sure to stay focused. I cannot be distracted by the world around me, society’s movies, music, glamour, or anything else. The Apostle John explains why: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him… and the world is passing away…” (1 John 2: 15, 17). Becoming distracted by this world can cause injury in our relationship with God.
As we hiked back down, a sense of accomplishment flowed through me. I had done it! I had endured! We passed others on their own hike up the mountain. Weariness and discouragement lined their faces. Each hiker asked the same two questions: “How much further?” and “Is it worth it?”
As Christian women, each of us are in different stages of life, surrounded by individuals all fighting different battles. We have the opportunity when we have reached an achievement in a personal trial to encourage our fellow sisters. We can tell them to hang on just a bit longer; that in the end, it is totally worth it.