Monday, November 5, 2012

Life's Hike ~ What will you see at the end of your journey?

     Hunting season in our area means lots of hiking. When a hike first begins it can be easy if the ground is dry and level. That's not always the case though. A hike is liable to start strait down or strait up, causing strained muscles and overly expanded lungs. Often times multiple layers of coats and heavy, water proof boots are necessary. There are times ice forms on the hillsides making it almost impossible to gain any ground. Other times the dirt is dry, but so loose that again, gaining a good grip is almost unattainable. It is important to get out early to find the animals while they're still in the open. This means that hunting hikes can start long before daybreak, so hiking in the dark is regular.
     If you just focused on the hike itself, it would be really easy to get discouraged and decide to just stay home. However, enduring the hike can be extremely rewarding. When you reach the end, the valley you've walked out of, stretches below you. It may be hard to see the muddy areas that you trudged through, but you have the assurance that you did. The scuffs and scrapes on those heavy boots, along with your achy joints are just reminders of the miles you've traveled and the hardships you've overcome. Oh, and that animal you worked so hard to get is lying on the ground ready to be preserved and hung on your wall or put in your freezer to feed you and your family.
     Life is a lot like a long hike. Some people have an easy start, other's struggle from the get-go. Needless to say, everyone encounters trials sooner or later. The hard times can be like those wet, boggy spots. Sure they slow you down for a bit, but if you stick to it, you'll make it through. Instead of having the achy joints, we might have heartaches or emptiness. But with a real belief in what you're striving for, just like achy joints, those pains will fade with time. Sometimes loss, finances or other circumstances are like the iced over hillsides. No matter how much you strive to move on, you're stuck in one place.
     Don't get discouraged though. Those downhill parts and level grounds are always somewhere up ahead. They're the times when the skies are so full of sunshine that no clouds are even visible and become almost unimaginable. It's receiving your diploma after years of hard work. The day when you marry the person you love. When finances are stable and you don't have to worry about very much. Or_____ you fill in the blank. We all have special moments that we remember as "good ol' days" and we dream of a life when those "good ol' days" aren't in the past but are a constant.
    We have to remember that, just like a long hike, we must keep our eyes set on our final destination. When we reach that last hilltop and turn around to see how far we've come. We might ask ourselves questions like: How did I conduct myself during those dark valleys? Did I become so discouraged that others suffered from it? When I was in those bogs I was ready to quit. But did I let that happen or did I change my perspective and see the extra moisture I was blessed with? What about the small hilltops, did I give myself credit for those or give it to God? If I give it to myself, the discouragement that will follow with the next valley might be too much to bear. I hope that I can say that on those icy hillsides, I clung to God for my stronghold and didn't put too much confidence in worldly goods to keep me from falling. Fortunately, we still have many hills, valleys, level ground, dark skies, sunrises and muddy patches to encounter, so we can still dictate the way we react to those situations. My prayer for myself, and every other human, is that when we look back over all of the country we've traveled, that we'll be proud of the ground we've covered and the character we showed, growth we experienced and the people we helped during it. 

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