The Power Of Persistence

Rock Split By Tree

The picture above is from a backpacking trip along the Ozark Highlands Trail in March of 2019. The large boulder had sheared off a cliff and settled on the valley floor far below. We were all thankful we were not there when it fell!

At some point, a small seed found its way into a crack in the rock. Eventually a sapling sprouted and began its relentless effort to find sunlight.  As the sapling matured into a tree, it split the massive boulder in half.

As I stood looking at this incomprehensible feat of strength, the only word that came to mind was persistence. For years this small tree had been persistent, struggling to find nutrients and sunlight in the small crack.

Slowly fighting against the constant pressure of the rock, expanding, twisting and stretching, it worked its way through the massive bolder. Suddenly, by absolute persistence, the strength of rock gave way and the tree was free to grow.

This little tree undoubtedly faced many challenges in its quest. At times it desperately needed water or struggled for sunlight. The word persistence carries the thought of challenges to overcome. Ease never requires persistence.

This hike required a great deal of persistence. As the trail wound its way through the Boston Mountains, every mile saw elevation changes of up to seventeen hundred feet.

The uphill climbs required persistence as sore legs complained. The jarring downhill sections were no different as the weight of the pack took a toll on knees and ankles. But through persistence we arrived at our goal.

Our lives are filled with challenges that can be overcome only through persistence.

In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus presents the parable of the Persistent Widow.

In ancient Palestine, judges traveled from city to city. They would set up a tent in the gates of the city and the people would come to present their case. Often these judges were very corrupt and the only way to have your case heard was to present the judge with a bribe.

Women in this day had no legal status to be heard by a judge. This persistent widow followed the judge from city to city pleading to be heard. Finally, because of her persistence, the judge agreed to hear her case.

Jesus likened this widow’s persistence to our prayer life. The judge heard her case because she did not faint when all looked lost. She never fainted in her persistence to stand before the judge and see justice.

The purpose of the parable is to help us understand that if an unjust judge would hear a woman with no legal rights or standing before the law, how much more will a Loving God hear and answer the prayers of those He loves!

When our prayers “seem to” go unanswered, sometimes for years, we need to remember, what we see as denials or delays, are God’s time of preparation in our lives. That alone should encourage our persistence in prayer. We can have confidence that God is preparing an answer to our prayers that will exceed our wildest dreams!

He will provide us with the strength to break the rock that is keeping us from having the abundant life He has planned for us. Let’s be persistent in seeking it!

Solo or So Many – Which Hike Is Best For You?

Solo or Group - picture of people hiking

Solo or with a group, what’s your preference for a backpacking trip? The obvious answer is, “Either way you are out hiking!” But there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

I. Group Hiking

Benefits of a group hike:

Safety / Security

Injury – on a recent hike our group included a nurse and an EMT, thankfully I had no use for their services other than some great company. If you are not on a well-traveled trail, even a minor injury can become a major event if you are not able to find help for hours (or days in some cases).

Animals – danger from animals can be an issue in some areas. The most common in the lower 48 states would be black bears. Any animal will be much less likely to stalk or attack group of hikers.

The other animal to consider is the two-legged kind. Though rare, there are reports of robberies and disappearing gear on some of the national trails, especially as they pass near larger cities. As with four-legged critters, a group will be a deterrent to all but the boldest jerks.

Fellowship – probably the greatest benefit of hiking with a group is fellowship. There are few things more enjoyable than sitting around a campfire with a group of your closest friends!

Just a short note on Trail Etiquette. I recently read a great article about the importance of keeping your group small (less than 10). The writer detailed their frustration as they followed a group of about 30 loud inconsiderate hikers down a trail.

II. Solo Hiking

My last hike was a solo hike.

The most common question was, “Is it safe to go by yourself?” And the answer is, “It is as safe as you make it.” Two things I would suggest.

Double and then triple check that you have everything you need. Hiking solo there is no one to borrow stuff from, especially water. Check your map for available water sources and talk with a local outfitter or a Park Ranger about water conditions on the trail.

I recommend (at least to start with) that if you are hiking solo, you stick to well-traveled trails that will eventually have people on them. Bushwhacking (off trail) where the only things that will  find you are buzzards and coyotes is not a good plan, even if you are experienced!

The benefits to a solo hike are:

Solitude – you will be more likely to see wildlife and experience nature. The bull elk that jumped up in front of me, causing my heart to skip a beat, would have been long gone as a group of hikers approached the area he was bedded down in.

Reflection – a solo hike is a great opportunity for reflection. Take your Bible! In the quiet time sitting at camp by yourself, eventually you will find you are not reading the Bible, it is reading you.

[bctt tweet=”Eventually you will find you are not reading the Bible, it is reading you.” username=”michaelkduff”]

Pace – if you are hiking solo you set the pace. It’s nice to take an extended break or to push for that extra mile without worrying you are pushing or slowing others down.

One thing to take into consideration, if your hike is not out and back or a loop trail, you will need to arrange for someone to shuttle your vehicle or drop you off at the trail head.

Solo or group hike, which way is best? Well it depends. For me, being a people person, I admit that I missed having someone to talk with while working my way down the trail.

What’s your preference? Leave a comment and share your experience on the trail!


God’s Blessings Are Hard To See With Gum Stuck In Your Hair!

Girl Blowing Gum - Blessings

God’s blessings are hard to see when you wake up with gum stuck in your hair! That’s (kind of) how the book, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, begins!

Have you ever had a day when it seemed like even your dog hates you?

Continue reading “God’s Blessings Are Hard To See With Gum Stuck In Your Hair!”