Guide to the Appalachian Trail

I settled in the back seat of an Uber car the other day, folded my white cane, and stuffed it in my bag. As I usually do, I began a conversation with the driver. As expected, we became friends. That's because I ask questions that prompt them to share and keep sharing about their lives.

This last driver told me about his brother who wrote the guide for the Appalachian Hike. I learned this adventure can take from 5 months to 10 years to complete. Gulp. But with the help of the guide, the hike is doable. In it, he details all the challenges, the best gear to bring, places to avoid, potential dangers, list of easier routes, best places to eat, how to find laundromats, lodging, etc.

Whew! Sounds like more than I can handle...


The long hike called life

But whether we like it or not, we're all, indeed, on a long hike called life. And the path is often filled with challenges, unexpected turns and obstacles. The good news is that much like the guide for the Appalachian trail hike, God wrote the guide for us to follow and reach the destination called peace.

Not sure where you are on that hike? Or maybe peace is a foreign word in the midst of this world's chaos? Good news; the guide to finding that peace is free, available and in the language any hiker can understand.


Let's conquer obstacles

With that guide in our hearts, we're ready to conquer obstacles of any kind.

We need a companion. We need encouragement. We need a comforting word. And we desperately need someone to tell us that all will be okay. That's why God's peace comes through this truth: "For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted that have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death." (Psalm 72:12-13 NIV)

Oh, those difficult and unexpected turns of heartache that barge in. Most are out of our control. Some crash in because of other's sins. Yet, God knows the oppression against our soul, and right when we cry out for help, "He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." (Psalm 72:14 NIV).

Fear visits. We fear we won't make it to the finish line. When we grumble about the sorry turn of events and the unfairness, when we long for His presence, peace fills us because, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV)

Gloom hovers over. When no one understands. When most cannot help, peace conquers sadness. "You are sad, I'm listening, and I will save you from your troubles." (Psalm 34:6 NIV)

Helplessness invades. But God offers His peace through this invitation: "When clouds of grief try to overtake you, ask Me for consolation and relief. Cry out to Me in your times of trouble, and I will save you from your distress." (paraphrased from Psalm 107:19).

Frustration won't let up. When we walk in circles around the same mountain of adversity, tears blur our vision; the path looks crooked and rough. That's when His guide instructs: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Better days are coming, hang on to the guide; the One who wrote it is with you. He never abandons or leaves you. And with Him by your side, there is no fear. There's only strength for each step. Reassurance for every turn. And He ushers the peace that carries power.

Let's pray: Father, how often, with a restless heart, I've embarked on the hike with my own plans and my own map in hand. Forgive my prideful ways and grant me a heart of humility. Show me how to follow your steps, to allow your guide to lead me. And find peace as I learn to walk on the path you prepared for me. In Jesus' name.

What guide are you using for your hike today?

Janet Eckles

If this message resonated with you, please visit Janet's cyberspace home for more inspiration.