Of all the challenges I had anticipated with this post-college program, no amount of foresight could have mentally prepared me for a certain obstacle: hiking in high altitudes. I thought I was in decent shape before this program, considering I exercised regularly and enjoyed the occasional day hike. However, the deep south does not offer much in the way of mountains, and as an Alabama native, I only ever had about three hiking trails to choose from in a given city. I was excited to come to Salt Lake City with its abundance of trails and outdoor activities.
Excitement quickly gave way to exasperation within two days of my arrival; a five mile hike at 8,000 feet elevation squeezed the air out of my lungs, the water out of my skin, and the blind optimism out of my naïveté. As I sputtered my way up the mountain, I was vaguely aware that I was towards the back of the group, and was annoyed with the three leading the pack, who— did I imagine?— were singing their way to the top. Sputtering versus singing. Seems about right. I was just thankful to make it up without dry-heaving.
It’s been four months since that first backpacking trip. Looking back, I can see that it gave me a glimpse of an outdoorsy mindset that seems common in Salt Lake, wherein the grit and grime of the hike is part of what makes the whole thing so sweet. The taxing hike was a complement to the slow-motion act of setting up camp, after which I kicked back in my hammock and let my thoughts drift... The creek’s water where we refilled our Nalgenes was mercifully cold.
Pretty quickly I realized that I had not gone on the actual trail. I kept thinking that I would reach the top and find the real trail to hike back down. In my fear I remembered Psalm 123, and Psalm 130, and I was comforted that the Lord knew what was in store for me. I took solace in knowing that He knew whether I would find a trail at the top, or if I was going to fall and break a bone, or if I would have to be airlifted (this scenario seemed a real possibility). Even in my fear and regret, I clung to my God who is with me always. I didn’t know the outcome, but I put stock in a God who did.
Amazingly, I survived that “hike” (although my clothes didn’t, they were ripped to shreds), and have since been able to reap the benefits of an expanded trust in the Lord. The lesson I took from that hike, that I can rely on the Lord’s all-knowingness about my future, has proven applicable to many things in life. For example, I have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing next year, but I believe in a God who does. I trust that He will work on my behalf no matter what happens, and that His plans for my sanctification will persevere through it all.
SLF Class of 17-18