I love being out in raw nature. Whether hiking, kayaking, walking, running, sledding, or camping… God’s creation ignites my soul.
Recently, I had the honor of taking a 3-day hiking trip to the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina with a longtime special friend of over 20 years. It was a glorious time. The weather was perfect, no rain, sunny and highs in the ’70s. We chose to be brave and take one of the more strenuous trails because we heard the view at the end was breathtaking. Breathing in the fresh, clean air, hearing the birds singing different melodies, seeing all the unique trees and flowers blooming made us come alive. Only 8 miles…we were pumped. With our little camelback on and our healthy granola bars, we thought we could conquer the world.
As time went on, the trail started getting harder and harder. This trail had many inclines and steep hills; a long, steady climb; many steps and roots, slippery rocks, and other challenging terrains. Our footing was very irregular, uneven, and unpredictable.
People passing by as they were coming back kept saying, “It is hard, but the view is worth it, keep going; you’re almost there.”
We were so excited to have finally made it to the top. We climbed one last big rock, and there we were on top of the world—beautiful lush green mountains surrounding us on every side. Peace and calm invigorated our whole being. There were no people, no buildings, no cars, no noise, just us and the mountains. It was heavenly. I felt like a new woman. They were right; the view was worth all the hard work. After we took a few pictures, face-timed my kids so they could see the view with us, and basked in God’s presence for a while, we reluctantly climbed down.
That is when reality hit us…Oh no! Now we have to go back. My calves were burning, my body said it couldn’t do anymore, but it was already 5:00 p.m., and we had to get down before the sun went down. I wanted to call a helicopter to come to rescue us. But that was not an option. The only choice we had was to keep moving. It was one of the hardest things I have physically done in a long time. I just took one step at a time. Towards the end, I felt like my body was shutting down. It was cold, my fingers were numb, and my legs burned. I was at the end of myself. When I prayed, asking God to give me a supernatural strength to get to the bottom. I couldn’t do it on my own. It happened. He answered my desperate prayer, and I felt my body come alive again. I got a second wind. I kept saying out loud, “we are almost there; we can do this.” Every turn we took, every rock we climbed, I felt more power to conquer and beat this trail. We did it! We made it down the mountain just before the sun was about to set.
Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We work so hard for our dreams, money, families, and happiness, and many times we get to see the reward of our hard work. But we often work hard and do everything right, but there is no reward; Miscarriages, failed marriages, sickness, abuse, loneliness… But in those most difficult times is where we can indeed come alive, not in our power but God’s power. He can give us the strength to make it through those horrendous times with even more joy and provision than anything we could ever hope or imagine. The trail of life is hard work. But I would like to encourage you to choose to allow Him to work in you when you are at the end of yourself; that is when you will see miracles happen in your life.
“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders and interfering with God’s work within us.” -AW Tozer