Sometimes God uses the wisdom of my kids to teach me everything He wants me to learn. Earlier this summer, my daughter A and I embarked on THE TRAIL. The TRAIL, which is the Beautiful Bay Trail, winds for 5 km from Bere Point campground out to the farthest point on Malcolm Island, Malcolm Point, through a coastal rainforest. It is one of the most beautiful spots on the entire island we live on in the summer, taking hikers through the beautiful labyrinth of the dense forest and also affording gorgeous views of Queen Charlotte Strait.
Every year my family goes to Bere Point and hikes on the trail to explore nature and look for what the kids call Fern Gully. Last summer, Avery started asking about doing the whole trail. I promised her when the summer of 2010 rolled around, and she was 6, we could take a father/daughter hike and do the trail. But a 5km trail each way= 10 km of hiking, or just over 6 miles. Through in a couple of drastic staircases to and from the beach and the fact we haven’t hiked a ton together, and I was definitely feeling a bit apprehensive. Could we do it? What if Avery got too tired? Could I carry her the rest of the way?
And what if something happened to me along the hike? I would be miles and miles from the trailhead, without cellphone access, on a seldom used trail with only a 6 year old to help. What if something went wrong?
But at some point, I knew things would be okay. See, we had prepared with a good breakfast, full water bottles, and lots of snacks. We were excited and had been talking about it for weeks, and we prayed– God protect us on this hike.
And so we hiked. We hiked with purpose, with energy, and with passion. Not knowing how the next few hours would be, we set off. And in the mean time. God spoke to me through my daughter in a very tangible way. As myself and others prepare to open a new branch of Bethany Community Church in Shoreline, I felt there were some distinct parallels.
1. GO WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE: If A hadn’t pushed me, and believed in her heart she could make the whole hike, I wouldn’t have tackled it. But she was so energetic and purposeful about the HIKE, I knew we had to do it. Her energy and committment fueled the whole experience.
2. Unknown ways are always a bit scary. When you are hiking on level ground and unexpected stairways take you down into unknown places, it is natural to fear apprehension, which sows the seed of fear. But if we always know where the path is taking us, we won’t ever be surprised by the joy of unexpected discoveries. Our God is a God of journey, who calls people out of the comfortable and into new places of unknown challenges. Why is this so? Because God knows that when we get comfortable, many of us stop depending on God quite so much and start leaning on ourselves. But be mindful, God wants to call us out, to bring us to new places, to challenge us into deeper obedience, and share this journey with others who aren’t in relationship with Him.
And sometimes? It all feels a bit tiring, a bit scary, and a bit uncertain. And in those times? We are called to rest, to drink some water, to survey the landscape, and pause before hiking on. In these moments, when our humanity is all too certain and our ability to complete the Hike is in danger, that questions start to poke up. Can we really do this? Is it too far? Is she too young? And if we’re not careful, these questions will erode our confidence and let apathy and decay set in. If you sit on this bench too long, the unknown places win, the challenges stand untackled, and you slowly and quietly shuffle back to the trailhead where the truck stands waiting.
Or….you take a deep breath, have another snack and a kiss on the forehead from a father that says “You can do this” and you hike on.