The Christian Hike – For a Lifetime
2,190 miles (currently). This is the distance from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The Appalachian Trail. The AT is a ribbon of green and granite stretching through 14 different states along mountain ranges, lush meadows and challenging terrain on the eastern side of the U.S. It is one of the big three long hiking trails known as the triple crown in the United States. The others being the CDT Continental Divide Trail at 3,100 miles and the Pacific Crest Trail at 2,659 miles. All very long hikes and all highly valued to some of the most ardent and devoted hiking enthusiasts.
So close your eyes for a moment. Imagine that you have just decided to hike one of these long trails. What is the first thing that comes to mind? What is your first worry?
What do you think that you need to do to prepare for an adventure such as this?
(Bears, rain, food, water, distance, people, physical conditioning) These are just a few of the things that you would need to address on a hike of this caliber. This is no weekend jaunt in the park or even a really long day hike. This is months, anywhere from 4 to 6 months or more, of every day, get up, eat, hike, hydrate, eat, hike, hydrate, hike some more, eat, sleep and repeat again and again and again. If this sounds like a long process and a grind, well, you’re right, sort of.
It could be said that long distance hiking is stringing together a long chain of mini hikes lasting 6 – 10 days each, and that each of those mini hikes is broken down into 6 – 10 day hikes. In essence, taking the trail one day at a time on its smallest level, the tree level, but putting planning and organization into the longer stretches, the forest level if you will.
Such is the walk through life of every Christian man, woman and child. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The “race” is not a sprint but a marathon. A long distance hike to be certain. One that will last until the day you die. There is no exit from the race. You hike it day and night without end whether you want to or not. Some days you’ll make crazy miles and success is everywhere. You’re strong, comfortable in your stride and hungry for more. Other days you’ll feel the weight of your life. Muscles will scream in agony for relief, you’ll be tired of being cold, wet and hungry and you’ll be tired of being tired. You’ll want to exit the trail, get a hot shower, an extra large pizza and a ride home to a real bed with clean sheets and a roof over your head.
What I’m hoping to lay out for you is the AT, CDT or PCT as a long distance hike, as a metaphor for your walk as a Christian man or woman. We’ll talk about some of the challenges of what it means to hike long distance trails and how that applies to the challenges that you face in walking with Jesus daily, weekly and through the whole of your life.
It is my hope that everyone who reads this, men especially, will be drawn closer to the savior who purchase you at so high a price and for you to discover some practical ways to walk the long trail and glorify God in the process.