The Spiritual Hike

August 18, 2015 | Abigail Walker

I’m now halfway through my season at the Grand Canyon North Rim. Wow! It sometimes feels like it has gone by really slow, but I look back and realize that time has actually flown by.

I’ve explored new towns and hiked up mountains. I’ve made friends and met people from all over the world. This summer has been a crazy whirlwind of fun adventures. However, it has also come with a large set of challenges. I’ve been pushed much more than I expected. 

There’s been conflict and loneliness. At times, I can really feel the enemy at work against me. And though I do my best to stay positive, it can be HAARRD! So often I want to throw myself a pity party. Like a whiny toddler, I want to stomp my feet, pout up to heaven, and say, “I don’t like this. Why are you doing this?” 

But I feel my faith getting stronger. My relationship with the Lord is constantly being tested, but each challenge allows me to get to know Him more, to depend on Him more. Right now my spiritual core feels tight and sore from training. Just when I think I can stop doing crunches, the Lord’s like, “Wait, one more.” 

I like to think of it as a relay. God has handed me the baton. He’s saying, “Go. Don’t look back and don’t look too far ahead. Stay focused on the task at hand. We will get through this.” I know the Lord is beside me. He’s set it up so perfectly that I know He’s in this. I also know that God often likes to do things in little sprints. After all, it is a race according to Paul, right? Through these hard times, these little challenges that often don’t seem little, God is training me. He’s preparing me for the longer spurts. He’s helping me build spiritual muscle. 

It makes me think about all the hiking that I’ve been doing this summer. Honestly, I’ve never been much of a hiker. I’m pretty out of shape. But being on the North Rim means there’s not much to do but hike. It’s kind of our main activity. So I’ve explored trails here and even traveled to other parks to hike. 

Every time I venture down a canyon or up a mountain, I feel like I am going to die. My calves protest and my lungs ache for oxygen. I often have to stop and rest every five or ten minutes. But then I get to the destination and behold God’s beautiful creation, and I can’t help but be so grateful for pushing myself to get there, for not giving up. I gaze down and see the trail where I started hours before, and think, “Wow! I did that?” The ascent may have sucked, but, boy, was it worth it!

It’s so symbolic of what God continues to say to me. “You may feel out of shape. You may feel like it’s too much. You may ask yourself why in the middle of it and wish to give up, but don’t. I’ve got you. I can’t show you exactly where you’re going to be yet because otherwise you wouldn’t trust me. You wouldn’t even try. You probably wouldn’t even believe me. You’d stay where you are and I want to move you further. But it’ll be worth it. I can guarantee it. You’ll look back at where you started and stand in awe of how far I’ve brought you.”

One of my favorite scripture passages is James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 

God has been inviting me to go deeper in my relationship with Him. He uses the challenges to grow me, to make me stronger, to form me into the person that He’s had in mind all along.

So I will push on through the struggles. I will not give up in the hard times. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, knowing that the end result is worth the challenges that I am facing now. God has my back, and He’s with me all the way to the top. His work within me is not done yet. 

"This summer allowed me to see the purpose as to why I study at seminary. I know of no other ministry that allows you to work full-time while you lead a team and practice running Sunday services each week. I grew a ton this summer!"
– Nick, Dallas Theological Seminary 2007

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