Saturday, September 9, 2017

ten lessons learned

Exactly a week ago, I did something crazy. Well, not that crazy. But definitely out of my comfort zone. I hiked all the way up to Lone Pine Lake, which, mind you, is 5 MILES total- 2.5 of it slightly uphill. (Still don’t know how I did it! LOL) Ever since I was a little girl, my dad has always taught us that we can learn lessons from every experience, every situation, everything. So my siblings and I grew up with A LOT of metaphors. It’s pretty natural for me by now to do the same! So without further ado, here are some things I learned from a 5-mile hike, spiritually speaking…

#1: This hike is a lot like our spiritual walk with God.
“Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:14)
The way to Lone Pine Lake was not an easy one, nor is it for the faint of heart. It is a very narrow path, with steps going up, and challenges every now and then. 

#2: Set your eyes on the Prize.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:14)
Whenever I started getting tired, I’d think of the majestic Lake we would very soon see. It’s the same in our walks-we must keep our eyes on the Prize-Jesus Christ Himself. One day we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him! Can’t wait! 

#3: Community is so important.
There was a good group of us that went up, some dear friends and family. It was just so encouraging to hike together and to keep moving forward. There was a span of about 5-10 minutes where a couple of my friends and I took a small break and got separated from the group. They were completely out of sight as we hiked up…it just felt so lonely. Once we caught glimpse of them waiting for us up ahead, it’s like we got a surge of energy! It’s easier to walk when you’ve got community to walk alongside you. We weren’t meant to walk all alone. Find yourself some friends who will spur you on to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)  
Which brings up my next point!

#4: Take time to be refreshed.
I don’t know if this will make sense, but I’ll say it anyway! Every now and then, we would all get together under some shade and take a break. It wasn’t a long time, but we’d get a chance to fellowship, drink water, share snacks, or just simply catch our breath. In our walk, we have the privilege of coming together with believers at church to be spiritually refreshed- worship, listen to the Word, pray, and fellowship. It’s important!
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

#5: If you stumble, GET BACK UP.
If you know me, then you also know I’m a little clumsy bhrvbdfhs. So you can bet there were a lot of times where I’d stumble over a rock, a step uphill, or even on my own two feet. Our walk with God isn’t always a smooth and perfect path. We all fail God daily. Maybe you woke up too late and missed your quiet time with the Lord. Or you lost your temper with a family member. Or _______________ (you fill in the blank). When you stumble, don’t wallow in self-pity. Get back up, stand straight, and keep marching ahead. Ask the Lord to help you and give you strength. There will be a lot of trials, but you must keep going.
“…A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” (Prov. 24:16)

#6: Encouragement is a HUGE blessing.
You have no idea how encouraging it was to hear someone on the trail say “keep going!” “we’re almost there!” “just 15 minutes and we’ll reach the lake” or “it’ll be worth it!”. Don’t underestimate the power of your words to fill others with hope, strength, and perseverance. Once we reached the lake and were on our way down, I tried to make an effort to encourage the tired hikers making their way up. You should’ve seen how their countenances would change to a smile and they’d say “THANK YOU!”
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thess. 5:11

#7: Our Lord Jesus helps us carry our burdens.
Halfway through the hike, some of the young men volunteered to carry bags. One of my little cousins was kind enough to carry my backpack. As soon as he took it and we continued hiking, wow what a difference it made! I had never realized how it felt being tired and that burden being carried for me.
 “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

#8: Don’t carry up any extra baggage.
Before we started our hike, everyone made sure that they were carrying the bare necessities. Even a water bottle could weigh one down. I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone to hike all those miles carrying a suitcase full of things they didn’t need. When we come to Christ, we need to get rid of all the baggage we can and ask Him to help us. Maybe that means forgiving someone who has hurt you, confessing hidden sins, or letting God have your past. Whatever it takes, get rid of all that spiritual baggage!
“Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  (Hebrews 12:1)

#9: Help each other.
On the way down, one of the young men in our group hurt his ankle. It was incredible to see the teamwork done to help in the moment. Someone found some sticks to use as a splint. Another person had an extra t-shirt to tie around his foot. Someone had a safety pin to hold together. His friends were able to help him all the way down, since he couldn’t put a lot of weight on his foot.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness… Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-2)

#10: The view was TOTALLY worth it!
The soreness in my muscles, every pain or difficulty to get there no longer mattered the moment I saw the lake. It was so beautiful. I was towards the back of the group, so I was able to take a moment to stop and just worship the Creator. It was such a special experience. The Day that we arrive to be with the Lord…every tear will be wiped away and every difficulty we ever had will diminish in comparison to the JOY we will feel in His presence.
 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
(Revelations 21:4-5 +7)

Have a blessed week you guys! -Jas

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