Our recent trip to Spain was highlighted by a fair amount of hiking, one of my personal favorite activities. A pattern began to emerge, however, as our trip progressed.
It began on day two, when we decided to hike down to a lovely little cove on the Mediterranean coast: Cala Pola. Initially we couldn’t find the place, but after several attempts at getting directions with our limited (Okay, let’s be honest…our “non-existent”) Spanish, we ended up in a parking lot at the head of a rather perilous-looking trail.
Being half mountain goat by nature — or so says my husband — I hopped on down without a thought. He, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so enthusiastic; but with lots of help from trees, boulders and his wife, he made it down without incident, and after about half a kilometer, we came to a dirt road that continued to wind its way gradually and safely to the beach below.
Interestingly, the dirt road didn’t begin where we had joined it, and on our way back to the car, we decided to follow it instead of trying to take the perilous path we had hiked on our way down. We were pleasantly surprised to find it brought us within about 100 meters of our car.
Why hadn’t we taken that road in the first place?
The answer is simple: I started down the first path I saw, and my husband followed. We never even looked to see if there was an easier way.
A few days later, we found ourselves hiking around Las Medulas, an ancient Roman gold mine in northern Spain. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beautiful rock sculptures left behind by the mining operations from the bottom of the cliffs, but we wanted more. We wanted to explore the mines from the top, and when a trail leading upwards presented itself, we turned off the wide, smooth path in favor of a narrow, steep, slippery one that lead towards the top of a particularly beautiful formation.
We climbed for a good 30 minutes before it began to dawn on us that what goes up must also come down. If we were slipping and sliding so badly in the upward direction, it would be far worse on the descent. Since there was no evidence that there was any easier way back to the path below, we turned around and very carefully made our way down that hazardous trail. The descent was so bad that even I was a bit nervous; but praise be to God, there were no injuries. After a few more moments of walking, however, along that wide, level path at the bottom, we discovered a much safer way to arrive — not at the top of one of the Medulas, but at the top of four.
As we returned to the car from our Las Medulas hike, I began to think about how our hiking trails are very much like the rocky paths we are often required to take in life. Illnesses come; spouses leave; death happens; children rebel; financial problems arrive; jobs are lost…And we have no choice but to walk these paths. Last Saturday, in The Trails, Part 1, we talked about how the more difficult path is often the one that will build our strength of character and sharpen our patience, our endurance and our resilience. But what if there were an easier way to arrive at the same destination, a better way that we are simply overlooking?
Jesus says, “I am the Way” (John 14:6 NLT). He also says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 NLT)
When we choose to rely on Jesus through the troubled times, He promises us rest. He promises to “yoke” Himself to us and take the majority of the pull. He promises that the road will be “easy to bear” and “light”.
No, we don’t choose to trod the valleys of life, but when we are forced onto them, let’s remember two important things: 1) The hard times help us build character; and perhaps even more importantly, 2) Jesus is there to help us through, to make our road “easy” and “light”. All we have to do is choose the “easier” way, the way that allows Him to carry us through.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Trails” mini-series, please click here.)