Take a Hike
by C.A. Phillips
John 5:17 (NLT)
This week, I’m working remotely from the North Georgia mountains. Sitting on the deck and taking in God’s beauty is a work environment I could get used to quickly!
After my wife and I finished up our work calls and tasks one day, we decided to take the family on an early evening hike. I have the All Trails app on my phone, so I did some research and found the closest and highest-rated trail. This particular trail was 3.4 miles long, and rated at 4.6 stars out of 5. Many of the reviews mentioned how peaceful and gorgeous the views were. The trail was listed as “moderate” in terms of how strenuous it is. More on that in a moment.
We loaded up our 78-pound German Shepherd, and our two sons and headed out on the trail. At first, I admit I was a bit disappointed with the terrain and scenery. We were walking in open fields on gravel for what seemed like a mile. Finally, the path narrowed, and we headed into dense woods – that was more like it!
I could hear the rushing river in the distance, and we began to descend rapidly down the hill. Within moments, we had an obstructed view of this expansive river – probably 200-feet across. Just beautiful! The trail continued along the river bank for the next half-mile or so, and we stopped a few times to enjoy views and let the dog play in the water. And, then we began our climb.
For the next 1.4 miles, we put our lungs, quads, glutes, calf muscles – and minds – to the test. This was no gradual incline – it was straight up the mountain! I found myself desperately looking forward to just a 15-or-20 foot long flat area to get a reprieve from the anguish my body was feeling. Eventually, it would come, but then we’d descend for another 100-200 yards – which meant we’d be climbing yet again.
It struck me that my mountain hike parallels life in so many ways. As we climb, we experience pain, sweat, labored breaths. It’s work. It’s a grind. But, our bodies benefit, and we can develop mental toughness if we don’t give in. When the path flattens, we experience a break from the physical and mental challenges, and it provides an opportunity to re-energize and re-focus. And, in the descent, we have to practice self-discipline and control. In fact, it can be far more strenuous on us as we go down – just like when we hit the rough patches in life.
God is always at work, and He has some incredible life lessons to share with you when you give Him some time that’s not rushed and not littered with distractions. That’s my prayer for you this week – see God at work around you, and listen for His voice. He has a message for you!
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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