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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)

TITLE: Hiking in the Spirit
By Al Boyce


A friend of mine recently told me the best place to get high quality, slightly used camping equipment: Along the first 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

The cool tents, camouflage ponchos, annodized aluminum trench diggers -- all look a little different after humping them up a mountain or two. They are gradually jettisoned by weary hikers in favor of the "basics" -- food, water, lightweight clothing.

Part of the problem is that we start our camping trip with our own ideas of what camping is all about. We envision breathtaking views from the summits without contemplating the trek to the top. We look forward to lazing by a babbling brook without considering getting firewood so we can boil that water and cook dinner.

Our walks with God may be much the same thing. We start off as new Christians with all sorts of shiny things: New Bibles with studious commentaries, a new church with the latest sound equipment for that really uplifting worship service. We look forward to cleaning up that ugly corner of our life that has been giving us fits. We look forward to God's blessings -- maybe a better job, better relationships -- but we have no idea what we are really asking for.

Like the trail into the wilderness, God gives no quarter. There are natural laws in place that are inviolate. We can no more point God at the ugly corner of our lives than we can limit our hiking to the downhill trails.

It's pretty easy to see in the first mile or so that the six-pack of beer was a mistake. And the gallon of milk on the bungee cord on our belt must go!

There! That's it, we're done. Thank you God for helping us get rid of those unnecessary impediments, now on with the trip!

There's just one problem: God wants all of us and, through Jesus, He intends to get have us.

The walk turns out much harder than expected. Who knew there were roots and rocks on the trail? And what's up with the air getting thinner the higher you go?

Every mile or so, if we look in our backpacks, things look a little different.

Didn't that grudge we harbored against our sister-in-law seem a lot more important when we started out? Weren't we willing to carry that forever? Now we nonchalantly drop it by the wayside.

That pride we've polished like silver for decades, when did it get so tarnished? And when did it get so HEAVY? Seems like that alone takes up half the backpack. It, too, falls by the wayside.

Gluttony, idolatry, malice, greed, ambition -- sheesh, who PACKED for this trip anyway?

Eventually, after considerable work and soul searching, our packs are nearly empty and our steps are light. We begin to notice we have room to pick up a few essentials.

Look, some flowers of compassion next to the brook! They fit nicely where the canned spam used to be. And over there! A whole tree full of humility, ripe for the picking.

As the trail unwinds, we find fields of patience, we grab an armload of faithfulness, we refill our canteen with love.

And when we finally top the rise of that mountain, the vista we see is something far greater than we had envisioned.

It is joy, pure joy.

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This article has been read 1514 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Deikun07/18/05
I loved this! How very creative. My favorite line was "Who packed for this trip anyway?" That was great. The whole devotional was terrific. Thanks!
Nina Phillips07/18/05
That was truly an awesome reflection and a great comparison. Nicely written. Get rid of the heavy load! God bless ya, littlelight
Kristy Cox07/18/05
Okay, I'll have to agree that "Who packed for this trip ..." is my favorite part as well. You seemed to lose me a bit in the middle, but brought me back when you said God wants all of me ... then it started making more sense. A great devotional. Thanks for sharing. In His Grip,
Kyle Chezum07/18/05
This was awesome! I'm not usually a big fan of non-fiction, but this just made my day! I say it's a winner. Good job!
Rita Garcia07/20/05
You blessed my day with joy, pure joy! Rita
dub W07/21/05
Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!
nuf said.
Martha Robinson07/21/05
Absolutely beautiful! Keep up the good writing!
darlene hight07/22/05
Very nice job! Good insights.
Val Clark07/22/05
Great, unforced, devotional piece. Well done.
Tammy Johnson07/23/05
Excellent! Refreshing and very good comparison to our spiritual walk towards maturity. Enjoyed it much.
Debbie OConnor07/23/05
Awesome! I loved every line. Great analogy, a pleasure to read all the way through. Thanks.
Melanie Kerr 07/23/05
An effective comparison! I liked the way that things oike pride got to be heavy and were discarded.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/23/05
Al, you've always got a piece of amazing insight and wisdom to share. Well written and definite food for thought. Thanks for posting. Great writing!
Blessings, Lynda
Shari Armstrong 07/23/05
This hits close to home. Very well done!
Suzanne R07/23/05
It keeps the reader following through and hits him like a brick between the eyes with the lesson - well done!
samuel saalwaechter 05/12/06
what were you doing looking in my back pack, I'm glad I have secret pockets. And I'm glad God's helping me to empty mine. It brings a special joy to me when I see others who have yet to unload theirs. Joy that is, that God makes mine extra heavy when I need to get rid of somethings. Should you view my songs and poems, I hpoe God helps you see somethings worth carring along with you. God bless
Jan Ackerson 03/29/07
This is the way a teaching piece should be done!
Joanne Sher 03/29/07
Excellent lesson taught in an amazingly effective way.
Julie Arduini03/29/07
Strong start, and you keep on. This was joy, pure joy!
Sharlyn Guthrie04/02/07
I enjoyed this vivid illustration of the Christian walk. Thanks for pointing us here. It's inspiring!