When the Going Gets Tough

For his birthday on Wednesday, Jason wanted to tackle a really tough hike. He's wanted to do this hike for a long time, but something has always hindered us from being able to do it. On Wednesday, I was determined to make his dream a reality. Sure, I was tired. Sure, the trail was rated "very strenuous," but I had been on those kinds of trails before. Plus, nothing is too much to endure for my hubby, right? If I had only known what I was getting myself into.

First of all, I think the trail was rated "very strenuous" because that's as high as the rating scale goes. It should have been rated "for fools only." I would say it was probably equivalent to a double black diamond in skiing. That trail was NOT for the faint of heart.

We started out by climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing and. . .well, you get the point. Then, we got to the tough part. We had to walk on ledges barely as wide as my foot, hike under waterfalls (yes, we got wet), crawl through 2x4 openings in the rock, climb tall ladders (this was really fun since we took the dogs with us), clamber onto boulders that were at least four feet tall, oh, and watch out for snakes! We had a good time, but I can tell you right now that there isn't a muscle in my body that isn't hurting, aching, or cramped!

The funny thing was that we knew the tough trail in the loop was only supposed to be a little over four miles long. (It felt more like forty!) According to the map, after we crossed two waterfalls, we should have been at the end of the trail and the junction for the turnoff onto a much easier trail. So, after we crossed the second waterfall, we were expecting to finally be off that horrible trail, but we were in for a surprise. There weren't two waterfalls; there were more like nine! Each time we crossed a fall, we hoped we were finally at the end of the trail, but we would continue on until we came to yet another fall. After a while, it became a joke. "I wonder if this is the waterfall that marks the end of the trail." Even Jason, as tough as he is, was saying, "It's got to be here soon. We've been on this trail forever." I agreed wholeheartedly!

We finally found the end of the trail and were able to get on a trail that was wide enough for us to sit down and eat. It was nearly 3:00. (We had had breakfast at 8:30.) After a hardy lunch, we completed the last part of our loop. The first four miles had taken almost four hours. The last six miles only took two and a half hours.

That was, by far, the toughest hike I've ever been on. The funny thing is that I didn't think I could handle a hike that tough. Some of the other "very strenuous" hikes I've been on have had me crawling on my hands and knees and begging Jason to just leave me there and let me die (maybe that's a little overboard, but it's how I felt at the time). This hike was much tougher, but I made it. . .I can barely move today, but I made it!

Sometimes in life we face circumstances that are so difficult that we think we'll never get through. We literally have to fight for the strength to put one foot in front of the other and continue this race that we're on. Then, when we think we're doing okay, we run into another circumstance that is much harder than anything we've ever had to face. It's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to shake our heads and say, "I'll never make it." But, I have good news for you. God can give us the strength to hike trails and fight battles. He can give us what we need to make it through any trial we are facing.

I admit there were times on Wednesday when I thought, I just can't do this. But each time I thought that, I heard the still, small voice of God saying, "Yes, you can. I'll help you." And in that moment, I felt a renewed strength that would help me to take that next step. Sometimes, I only made it ten steps before I had to stop and rest, but that was ten steps closer to the end of the trail (which is past A LOT of waterfalls, not just two!).

When things seem too difficult, don't give up. Rest if you must, but then keep moving forward. God will give you the strength even if your trail is rated "very strenuous."

Ibuprofen, anyone?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. - Psalm 46:1