Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why It's Important to Check and Double Check a Map

This is dedicated to my friend, Mindy.  Mindy is a godly Christian woman, wife, mother, homemaker, homeschooler AND Occupational Therapist, to name a few of her roles.  Along with all these responsibilities, she has a strong sense of adventure and an amazing ability to not only accept the quirky missteps of life but to enjoy them.  I appreciate this quality of hers and want to emulate it.  Today, I had the opportunity to do so.  I respectfully call this a “Mindy Moment”.
Today is officially Day 1 of my Acadia National Park vacation.  One of my goals for this trip was to get in a lot of hiking.  Trails are rated Easy, Moderate, Strenuous and Ladder (which means there are portions of the trail where you have to cling to climb iron ladders.   Of course these are relative terms; one man’s moderate is another man’s strenuous.
There is a Ranger-led hike tomorrow that I would like to try, but it’s rated Strenuous, so I wasn’t sure I could keep up.  Because I’m somewhat active, I figured I could handle Moderate, no matter what level of Moderate it might be.   It would just be a matter of how well I felt after tackling a Moderate trail, whether I would try the Strenuous hike tomorrow.
I was a responsible hiker.  I carried not one, but two bottles of water and trail mix.  I had sunscreen, bug spray, a hat.  I wore good hiking boots and packed extra socks.  I even had a cool compass/whistle thing (Mindy has a compass/whistle thing, but her’s is way cooler).  AND I purchased a trail map at the visitors’ center, complete with a listing of all the trails, their level of difficulty rating, distance, topography, etc.
I reviewed the map and chose a Moderate trail – the Schiff Trail.  And then I set off.  This trail was pretty much nothing but granite steps up the side of Dorr Mountain, the second highest mountain in the park.  It was definitely taxing and I had to take numerous breaks.   Since this wasn’t a loop trail, to get back to my car I’d either have to connect with one of the other trails ahead or return the way I’d come.  Consulting my map, I could see the shortest way back would be to take Emery Path, a Strenuous rated trail.  I had thought that if I did well on the Moderate trail, I could try the Emery Path to see how strenuous Strenuous was.  Since I was having such difficulty with this path, I was rethinking this plan.
There were a number of times when I thought of turning back.  I wasn’t worn out…yet; but I knew I could find myself overly tired before I turned around and it could be a problem getting myself all the way back to my car.
Still, I pressed on.  I wanted to complete what I started.  Where would Jacob have been had he given up when wrestling with God?  He would have missed out on God’s blessing.  What would have happened had Hannah quit praying for a child?  Because she pressed on she was given Samuel.  I was going to finish this Moderate hike.  I would conquer…and then collapse back in camp!
When I got to the end of the Schiff trail, there was a way sign pointing to the Strenuous Emery Path.  There was also a sign pointing back the way I had just come only it didn’t say Schiff Trail.  It said Kurt Diedrich’s Climb, a Strenuous Trail. 
Though I’d wanted to try one of the more difficult trails, I had not planned on doing so today.  I’d walked in to it (literally) unaware and not at my own timing.  God does things like that.  He’s put me on a difficult life trail, not one I’d have chosen for myself.  If I had known when I started how difficult it would be, I might have turned back long ago or never even started.  But He knows the path He’s chosen for me and He sent His Son, Jesus to walk the same paths before me, blazing trails and leaving way signs along the way.  In fact, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, His willingness to live life as a man and die a painful, sacrificial death, my omnipresent Father is there leading me – beside still waters, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and up steep granite Strenuous Moderate mountain trails.
Tomorrow, barring incredibly sore muscles, I plan on taking that Ranger-led Strenuous hike.  And I plan on continuing on the life path my heavenly Father has chosen for me.  And on any future hikes this vacation, I will be carefully reading the Trail maps!