Monday, February 11, 2013

A Hard Walk

A holiday - Youth Day! Who would have known that such existed. But I'll take a holiday any way they want to give it.

So, I just returned from a hike. Went to a place that I had never been before. I can't really tell anyone where it was, since we were pretty much lost for 6 hours. It was a strange combination of pleasure and torture. I love to hike, to walk in the beauty of creation. It is soothing and refreshing to me. Gives me time to think and spend time with others. So, all was going well. But, it turns out that when an African points to a path and says "its very bushy bush", that actually translates to "don't go down there". We thought it meant something like "a fun adventure awaits down there", but that was somewhat of a Western translation. No one brought a machete, so we just bushwhacked with our bodies. This is how it felt inside - "ouch", "owww", "ahhh". Through tall elephant grass, along steep, shifty slopes, across streams, over bush animal traps, under trees. There was no one else out there to ask for directions, but we knew that there should be some sort of path or road at the top of the ridge. So, we climbed thousands of feet up. I say climbed, but it was more of a scramble on the loose dirt alternating with thrusting your whole body into the elephant grass to try to create space enough for your tired frame. The joy and refreshment became mingled with physical strain and the uncertainty of being lost.

Finally we found an actual path. Woo hoo, we thought! The top was just over these few, just over these next few upward, upward we went. I walked on ahead of the others at one point. I heard a noise. It was a noise of a human farming. They were beating something rhythmically. Signs of life! Then I saw her. Some would say she looked like a normal woman, but I saw in her a map and a guide. My heart fluttered with hope again. She spoke little english, but I understood that this path would take us back toward the hospital if we kept following it. The others came a few minutes later and I gave them the good news.
I couldn't really understand how far we had to follow, but this was the way back. Turned out it was a long way from there, but indeed it led us correctly, and wearily, home.

The trip led me to consider many things. The feeling of being lost, without direction or hope. And how, when you are lost, you are really glad that someone else is lost with you. But when you find a better way, what a joy it is to bring others along, no longer to nowhere, but to somewhere purposeful and fulfilling. I also thought of the verses about the narrow road, the road less traveled. Those are hard roads sometimes. They can leave us tired and weary. Sometimes they are filled with the feeling that nobody else is out there, every one else is on the big, wide road far off. It can be a lonely feeling. But then I thought about one of the verses that rings frequently in my soul, perhaps it is the best reflection for a man when he is on a difficult journey -
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, 
And He delights in his way. 
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, 
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
Psalm 37:23,24

I mean, how much more comfort could there be? We never walk alone. That no matter how hard the road, or twisted the path, our support is none other than the Almighty God. 

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