Learn How To Hike Your Own Hike

Two Guys Hiking

It’s amazing how the information overload age drives our thoughts, actions and habits. Our entire lifestyle can be altered with the right “expert” posting a new YouTube video…

If you are familiar with me, you know I love backpacking. Venturing into the online hiking community will bewilder you with the debate over what is and what isn’t a true backpacker!

For instance, if your base weight is not under 10lbs (ultralight), you are not a real backpacker!  It’s easy to buy into the “ultralight” mentality as you try to get your base weight down. To get to that base weight will cost you about $2,000. Honestly, if we can’t carry 25 pounds, we should find a new hobby!

And then you must be stoveless! This means you don’t carry any means of cooking food. You eat dried foods or cold soak them in water.

A friend and I did a stoveless hike last summer. I still laugh at us standing there eating nutrition bars, drinking cold coffee, and telling each other, “It’s not too bad.” Translation, I can hardly choke this down! It’s worth 10oz to make hot coffee!

One more thing, you absolutely must wear trail runners and not boots!

The “you have to” list is endless. The result is you end up hiking someone else’s hike. The only way you will enjoy their hike is watching it on YouTube.

The hiking community has a phrase, “Hike Your Own Hike.” Basically, figure out what works for you and do it!

Being that I am a pastor, there must be a spiritual application!

In our Christian lives, if you are involved in a local church (which you should), we have a similar issue. There are many people who try to define for us what a Christian is and what one isn’t.

God’s Word defines what a Christian is and how we can know we are one! Biblical principles make that distinction for us.

Our problems come into play when we get to secondary separation issues. The do’s and don’ts list Christians love to maintain. Disclaimer, some of them we really shouldn’t do!

We all know that “real” Christians don’t smoke, drink, chew or run with women who do!

Yet one of the greatest revivals the world has known, was led by a man with a cigar in his mouth who enjoyed a good shot of whiskey every now and then.

For me, because of past struggles, neither is a good idea. But those are not what define me as a Christian. God defines me, not others!

The Bible has its own version of Hike Your Own Hike, we find it in the book of Philippians.

Philippians 2:12b …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

In the backpacking world, someone who achieves the status of “ultralight”, has developed a high level of skill to survive with very little equipment. It took a great deal of time, research, trial and error to operate at that level. They are truly hiking their own hike.

Work out your own salvation is the same. If we are depending on others, “the YouTubers of the church” to tell us what a Christian is, we will end up trying to live the testimony of others in our Christian lives.

We do need to learn from the testimony others. They have experience, made it through trials and passed the tests of faithfulness. But work out your own salvation means we cannot assume their faith, testimony and relationship with God.

A relationship with God is a personal thing “your own”.

As a Christian, the only way to have a relationship with God is to personally invest the time! You must learn to Hike Your Own Hike!

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:
Continue reading “Solo or So Many – Which Hike Is Best For You?”