On Saturday, we did a familiar hike that was fun and almost relaxing. The trail is mostly broad and flat, allowing us to stroll along hand in hand while Mitch raced up ahead, chasing squirrels and digging holes. On Monday, however, we decided to do a hike that I had never done. Jason had done it with a friend many years ago. In fact, he and his friend had done the entire trail which is quite long and rated "Very Strenuous." We were planning to enter the trail about halfway through and do the half that is not as difficult. According to Jason, the trail wasn't bad at all, mostly an old logging road like what we're used to. Evidently, his memory is getting as foggy as my own, for the portion of the trail we hiked was VERY strenuous.
We've done tougher hikes but not in a very long time. The longest hike we've done in a while is the seven-mile familiar trail I mentioned earlier. Seven miles of flat trail is not difficult at all. Nine miles of ascending and descending a mountain is killer! That's what we did on Monday, and I quickly realized that I was not in good enough shape to tackle that kind of hike. Not yet anyway.
We made it--well, we mostly made it. We didn't go all the way to the waterfall because it involved descending many more switchbacks which we would then have to climb back up, so when we reached the river, we decided it looked like a beautiful spot to rest a moment before beginning the climb up the mountain. That's when I struggled. It was horrible! I climbed ten steps then had to stop and catch my breath. Ten more steps. Another minute of rest. I remember praying on several occasions, "Lord, please give me the strength to climb this mountain. I really don't think I can do this." I wasn't kidding, nor was I exaggerating. I wasn't sure my body was going to have the strength, energy, and stamina to make it up that mountain.
Perhaps you know exactly what I'm talking about. You may not be climbing a literal mountain, but maybe you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle. You're tired. You're weary. Your strength is just about gone, and you find yourself whispering, "Lord, please give me the strength to climb this mountain. I really don't think I can do this." You're not kidding or exaggerating either. You're serious. Dead serious! You feel like it's too much effort to take another step. I get it. I've been there both physically and spiritually, and it's not a pleasant place to be. But may I share with you the end of the story from Monday in hopes that it will encourage you and give you hope for your situation?
The entire trip up the mountain was a struggle, but with the Lord's help, I pressed on. My legs ached, and my heart pounded, but praise the Lord, I made it to the top! I crashed that night and could barely move for the next few days, but I made it. (Why, oh why, do I do that to myself?)
On the positive side, I feel good about conquering a new hike and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Jason and I have a new memory to share and laugh about at a later time. And I have another blessing to write in my book of remembrance: God got me through. He was the One who kept me going. It was His strength that enabled me to press on. I have no doubt that there, in the midst of the woods on the side of the mountain, God heard and answered my prayer for deliverance. And He will hear and answer yours too.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. - Habakkuk 3:19