Yesterday, I went on a hike. It was one in which I would be challenged physically, as there were boulders to be circumvented throughout and much of the walk would be in direct sunlight, even in the gorge, on the way to the Colorado River. The Colorado and the hot spring baths near the end were to be the reward for the work of the journey. I was excited to get going in the morning and my friend and I quickly outpaced quite a few people at the outset of our trip.
It wasn’t long before we encountered the first few sets of boulders and began spryly hopping or climbing our way down them. In only a very short time, I found out that the shoes I had decided to wear were not the optimal choice for such a journey. They had very little grip and, since these boulders were smooth from years of running water, I found it difficult to maintain safe traction. Needless to say, when traversing one such boulder, my shoe slipped as I shifted my weight onto that foot. I was stopped abruptly by another rock. All two hundred pounds of me laid into the outside of my arch and a sharp pain shot through my leg as my momentum carried me just past the threshold of what my body could handle. I had hurt myself quite badly.
Pride is a funny thing. Even though I knew I was hurt, I played it off as being no big deal, and the hike continued. I said nothing as the trail became more and more treacherous and, as a result, my injury became more and more painful. I simply did not want to be a disappointment to my friend nor did I want to miss out on the hot springs I had heard so much about. It was an hour later that we finally reached the Colorado River.
At this point, I knew I was in some serious trouble. I wasn’t sure I could make it out of the gorge on my own and I even jokingly referenced calling a chopper to haul out someone else in a different party who was feeling overwhelmed. I never did get into a hot spring nor did I swim near the river. I didn’t think I would be able to handle the additional physical activity even though it sounded like fun. I was exhausted already, in pain, and feeling the heat of the day start to drain my energy. I let my friend swim and interact with others as I sat on the side watching some mallards beg for food. In what seemed like a flash, we were ready to head back up the trail.
Climbing back up those ropes and traversing the slippery path took whatever energy I had left from me. When we finally reached the emergency water station, I was ready to pass out. The twenty minutes it should have taken to get to the car from there stretched itself into an hour or more. It was in this last stretch that I really felt like the Lord was showing me my current life.
I have felt like I have been in my own personal wilderness for quite some time now. The truth is, at the onset, I was excited to enter it. I didn’t realize I was entering a wilderness, only that there seemed to be an ultimate goal that was worth any trouble I might have in getting there. Boy, was I wrong! It has taken such a toll on my spirit and soul to have walked through this time, and the goal I thought was once worth it has been since abandoned as it now holds no worth at all. I’ve gotten myself into a place that seems unreachable by anyone else, and I certainly cannot get out of it on my own. Yet, the Lord has promised He will never leave me, nor forsake me. He has been here with me, even in the darkest of times, all along. I have tried to walk this Christian in my own strength and I have exhausted myself in the process. I’m tired, y’all, so very tired.
So, as I forced myself to take step after step, painfully putting my own weight on a bad foot and straining the muscles in the other leg to compensate, I began to ask Him for help. I quietly prayed for His strength to get me through and I tried to ignore the pain. Worship music began to play in my mind. I was quietly whispering along to “Lilly of the Valley” as my heart began to realize that what I was feeling and experiencing in the physical was what God wanted me to realize in the spiritual. I was never going to make it without His help and I was hurting, even if I tried to ignore that fact. The truth is that the only way out of the valley is to let the Spirit of God lead. God is a Spirit and He is the only One we can turn to for navigation through the spiritual world which we cannot see. It was only one step at a time out of that gorge yesterday, and I couldn’t see past the next two or three. It is the same within the spiritual. I cannot see the next step unless God shows it to me and He generally will not show it to me until I take the one which He has shown me last. One step at a time, trusting God to lead the way, is the only way to successfully live this thing called life.
It took some time, but I eventually got out of the gorge and back to the car. Interestingly, it was the very place I began when I thought it was going to be worth the reward. I surely hope that God hasn’t hit the reset button to have me start again from a previous place. I am, however, grateful that He is getting me through my wilderness, even if I have to go back to a new start. I am tired from my own weight, walking on worn spiritual feet, but I’m surrendering to Him. Whatever it takes, I’m stopping trying on my own to do this. The Lilly of the Valley is right here for me to stop and take in the beauty. The sweet aroma of Christ and the beauty that persists in the ugliest of places in my life is where I am heading. He will show me the way, and I am going to lean on Him to get me through. I simply wish it hadn’t taken an injury for me to get it.