We’ve been having a lot of rain and snow where I live. Primarily rain. This means anyone with property is six inches deep in mud. It also means all of the hiking trails are six inches deep in mud. Has that stopped me from going on my hikes?
Of course not. But it does mean I need to make some adjustments before journeying outside.
The first is putting on different shoes. My usual Danner hiking boots, as wonderful as they are, don’t quite cut it if I want to keep myself dry and semi-clean. Instead, I slip into my knee-high Muck boots, roll up my jeans and hit the puddles.
Second, I need my hiking stick. It’s about five feet tall, good and sturdy, provides balance and is a good depth-checker before I step into particularly mucky areas.
Finally, I need a mental reminder before I set out, when I reach my halfway point and when I reach the end. “Look up.”
Why? When I go hiking when it’s this muddy, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, I spend the majority of the hike with my eyes on my shoes. I’m trying to figure out where to place my feet so I don’t slip or accidentally splatter mud on my jeans. The problem is, I can spend so much time trying to figure out where I put my feet, looking down at the ground, one mile into the hike and I’m miserable and ready to turn back.
With all that time staring at the mud I can miss some of the most beautiful scenery. In all honesty, the ground isn’t as uneven as I think it is. It’s different, surely, but all my worry about slipping can steal the joy of the hike. Who wants to go on a hike and stare at mud the whole time? What’s the point of that?
I need to remind myself to look up at the scenery, the sky, the wild animals (hopefully nothing bigger or more threatening than a deer) and just enjoy the journey. Proverbs 16:9 says we plan our course but it's the Lord who establishes our steps. We don't - He does. That’s why I can even set out in the first place - He makes it possible. The journey is beautiful and exciting and adventurous. By spending all that time thinking about where I’m going to place my feet, so fearful I might fall, I miss out and I take over the role I was never meant to have.
My own personal walk has been a very interesting one lately. There’s a whole lot of mud on my journey at this moment. It’s been raining and threatening to turn my spiritual hike into one big depressing drag. Then the sun comes through the clouds. The journey is still a giant muddy mess, but there are moments the sun comes out and it’s truly beautiful.
We get to choose whether we stare at the mud or the sky as we walk. We have to risk the fall to look at the sun, or the Son, otherwise we spend a lifetime staring at the mud, and that’s not the life God designed for us to live. Sometimes we just need to put on better boots, grab hold of the grace of God and keep our eyes up, trusting he’ll catch us when we fall.
What good is an adventure without a few battle scars to show for it anyhow? He will establish our steps - if we trust Him to.