"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

05 April 2015

Keep Pressing On!

First mile of trail up Tremper Mt
Catskills, NY
28 March 2015

It was overwhelming.... the snow. the ice. the cold crisp crunch under my boots.

I knew if it wasn't for my friend's stabilicers and her willingness to trudge back to the car to get them, that I would not be able to hike this trail. My goal was the summit where the fire tower was located. The summit with wind chills of under 20 degrees. The goal was to do this before the timber rattlesnakes slithered out of their den in the warmth of spring, waking to another year in the forest on the mountain.  And the bears...the bears have been seen on this trail in warmer months.  I had goals. I had to hike this mountain  and get it checked off my list before those creatures came out of hibernation so I could complete the Challenge (that I've been working on since summer 2004!) by the end of the hiking season 2015. 

I'm persistent.

So is God.

My 2 hiking friends from central New York State, my childhood hometown area, were doing this hike with Carla and I.  However, they were hiking slower than I was and Carla was hiking her usual rushed fast pace.  She was way ahead of me after the first mile.  The other 2, Cheryl and Mona, were at least within my eyesight.  Until they weren't. 

I trudged on wondering why in the world I was out in the cold on a spring day that felt and looked more like mid-winter.  Were we crazy??

No, I was determined.  Determined to climb this mountain and a bit "cabin fever"crazy as it had been a LONG winter with only 1 other hiking trip in a local state park.  I hadn't been on a mountain trail since October and I hadn't been on a real hike in the woods since early November.  I was so ready to hike.  My body and mind were ready and my soul....the Naturalist in me...was more than ready.

I plodded on, watching every little step, which I didn't like as it took way too long to go 3 miles up....but....I began to notice the beauty around me.

Hiking is a spiritual experience for me besides the physical workout and the mental acuity needed to reach the summit.

When I am following a well-blazed trail (like the one up Tremper Mt this day), I can hike with relative ease and enjoy my surroundings....I'm totally into it in every aspect:  physical, mental, emotional/spiritual. And although this trail was well-marked, I was not liking it as much as I would have if it was August.....it was all that hard packed snow and ice!  But.....like I said...I'm persistent.  And God, for some reason, wanted me on this mountain.  He even provided the right foot gear via my friend!  So of course I was going to continue.

At around the 2 1/2 mile mark..or what I was guessing was about 2 1/2 miles, I noticed that I could no longer see Cheryl and Mona and I definitely could not even hear Carla.  I figured she was at least a half hour ahead of me...probably already on the summit and the other 2 ladies were probably about 10 minutes behind me.

As I stopped by a large rock to take a drink of water, and catch my breath, I realized that if it was summer with perfect weather conditions, I would be anxious about seeing those rattlers or running into a mama bear.  So I thanked God for giving me the day to hike.

between miles 2 and 3

And that's when He began to speak to me.  He reminded me that sometimes we are asked to do hard things.  Things that are exhausting physically and/or mentally.  He began to remind me of times in the past when I screwed up, yet He was always there to embrace me, forgive me, keep me pressing on. He reminded me that even though a dear friendship I had in the past was over, that He still cared for both of us....that the issue surrounding the relationship ending was petty and that I could just give it to Him and relieve my self of the guilt of not doing the right thing.  What a relief that was!!  I lifted up my eyes to the summit of the mountain and felt His help come upon me.  Help for my inward feelings of guilt that I didn't do enough or that the words I had written to her were not adequately stated....and even though we probably will never be friends again this side of heaven and even though she has moved away and doesn't respond to cards I send, that I can still love her, pray for her and keep the good memories and moments alive in my heart.  I don't need to feel guilty...Jesus takes it all on His shoulders!  I did learn from this friendship...I learned a lot!  And I prayed on that cold, hard rock that someday she would realize just how much she is cared for and that even though people do make mistakes with how they handle things, that God is a God of second chances.

So...here I was on this trail, catching my breath on a hard rock (see the rock in the background above on the left?) and pondering past friendships and words written in haste and not fully explained and wishing we could begin again like God does with us.  And all of a sudden, I heard His whisper to get up and keep going......because just like the trail was tough, so too are our relationships with others at times.  But if we keep pressing on, and finding the joy in them, we can overlook a lot of the pettiness and disagreements.  I was finding joy on the trail because I was hiking alone, knowing that there were friends on either end.

We can find joy on our journey because God is waiting for us at the end!

After praying for my guilt to be released, I was free in my soul!  I picked up my backpack and hiking stick and continued on.  And then I realized I hadn't seen any red blazes in over a half mile.  I looked up and all around. I was not on the trail!!  I almost panicked.  But again, I heard that whisper that He is right beside me every step of the way.  I had the liberty to walk alone and the freedom to rejoice that God would see me through to the end.........I quickly prayed "help me find the blazes Lord" and there it was!!  On the tree in front of me about 100 yards up to the right.  I had to trudge over a lot of blowdown and snow that sank me to my knees, but I was back on the trail in no time!  I had wasted time but I found my way with God's help. Halleluia!

I started hiking faster because I was now at the point where I was so done with this trail!  I just wanted to snap a pic of the fire tower, find my friends, eat a snack, drink a ton of water, and get back down this mountain!!  I kept plodding on, ever careful to find the red blazes and finally I made it to the summit!

Tremper Mountain Fire Tower
2740 feet at summit

Yes, we can do hard things in Christ.  He gives us all the strength we need.....

as promised in Philippians 4:13

If you are discouraged, feeling guilty over something you didn't handle well, or any other negative emotion, know that you are loved by the One who shed His very life's blood for us.........And give Him those negative thoughts and emotions....He can handle it for you!

He lives eternally so we can live eternally too! 

 He does give strength to us to keep pressing on in this journey........


Simply Linda said...

Yes, Faith, He sure does. I sure needed to see this post. Happy Easter.

BTW, it has been snowing here in western NY all day --I think it is high time for spring/warmer temps, smiles. Blessings

Susanne said...

I love how God met you where you are most open to Him. He really does know us, doesn't He? Good for you for making the summit!

Paula said...

Good thoughts, Faith. Congrats on another hiking accomplishment. :)