I am drawn to the mountains. To escape the routine of life for even an hour and go hiking recharges my batteries and is like a reset button for the day. The sounds of the wind through the trees, the chatty birds, the smell of the mushrooms and wild flowers all bring me back to life. It’s invigorating but also calming. It feels exciting but also adds a sense of peace. The exercise brings on some quality huffing and puffing too.

One day our city’s Sawnee Mountain called me. I quickly answered her and went to visit the shorter three mile trail. About 1/3 of the way through, I came to a side trail that was less traveled, which enticed me to explore it. I was up for a little adventure and wondered where it would take me. There was not a map to show anyone details about it. I was going off the beaten path and believed that this narrow trail would lead to somewhere. It was heading uphill, and besides, it would have to end sometime – the mountain is only so tall.

It was pretty difficult to traverse. There was ivy crossing the path, fallen trees and branches laying zigzagged everywhere, and spiderwebs filled open spaces. I encountered six wild turkeys who made quite a ruckus as I interrupted their scrounging for breakfast.

But I was on a mission: to find out where this path led. Up. Up. Now the sweat is freely dripping from the exertion, and I was thankful for the washcloth I brought to keep wiping it off.

Suddenly I slipped on a loose rock, which went rolling backwards down the hill, causing other rocks to start rolling downhill as well. This caused a chain reaction in my mind and I compared this to our lives.

As we each are on a journey, we can all easily misstep, slip on a rock, or if its icy or snowy, start to slide backwards down our hill.

For example: If you were actually hiking up a rugged hill and slipped on a rock, a variety of things might happen: 1. You could quickly catch yourself and immediately get on with your climb, 2. You fall and start sliding down the rocky hill, but gravity would quickly take over and your downhill speed would increase, like the snowball effect. Soon enough you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself, unless something or someone intervened.

You know where I am going with this right? In life, we make choices every day. Sometimes our choices cause us to slip and fall in our christian walk because we are weak, but we can get back up. Other times our poor choices lead us to slide down our personal hill for a longer time and distance, but we must remember that we can quit that “thing” that weakens us and leads back down towards where we came from. There will be other times when we need someone to intervene and help us stop our descent.

There will be other people along your faith’s path that want to encourage you or even lend a helping hand. Please let them! Accept their help and get back on your feet.

The third possible thing that might happen is you cause someone else to stumble in their walk by your misstep or sin. You must repent of it and look for opportunities to make amends and correct it. But whatever you do, don’t give up now. Don’t let guilt or doubt keep you from your goal! Its never too late to begin or continue your journey, to get back on the path thats before you and to take those next steps.

But, what if you did witness someone else sliding down that steep hill? Wouldn’t you at least try to help them? What if they didn’t want help?  If you are witnessing someone in trouble in their christian walk, reach out to them. Give them your hand in friendship. You just might be their last lifeline.

The Lord knows where each path leads and will give you signs along the way. He will help you stand up when you fall, because He is your strength, and His love for you is unfailing. Just ask Him by calling out.

Enjoy this journey! Stay on the straight path. Help other sojourners. This life is an adventure worth living.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Food for thought: Have you encouraged or lent a helping hand to someone this week?

Fun fact: The world’s longest recreational trail is in Canada. The Great Trail spans 14, 913 miles, links 13 territories, and runs from coast to coast.

Photo by: Antonio Molinari