Sorry Rachel, I can’t let you have all the fun!
While Rachel spent her spring break serving in Haiti (read all about it here), I decided to knock something off my bucket list that I have always wanted to do.
I teamed up with my good friend and college roommate Bryan for one of the most awesome adventures of my life. Backpacking through West Virginia’s Dolly Sods.
I’m not going to lie, there was a moment of panic when I first put on my backpack and realized that would be living off of its contents for the next three days. Also, feeling 40lbs on my back (even in my new backpack) put the challenge we were about to face in a bit more perspective. But we bravely took the first steps.
By mile one we were already feeling the symptoms of an overanxious weightlifter on leg day!
About ten steps later we were lost.
Miserably, unexplainably lost.
We had somehow wandered off of our perfectly nice people-trail and stumbled unto an overgrown, poop filled animal-path. The worst part is, we kept going on the animal-path until we were sure it was the wrong way…
The thought actually went through my mind, “If we just continue through this mess a bit longer, we’re bound to meet up with the trail eventually.”
Well that was the farthest thing from the truth, we actually met up with a huge muddy bog. So, defeated, we turned around and went back the other way.
Once we found the actual trail again, the rest of the day’s hike was relatively uneventful.
Besides the sore neck and blistering thigh muscles.
We made it almost 8 miles before collapsing in a slightly slanted clearing and set up camp for the night. It was so beautiful on top of the mountain. We watched the sun disappear and the brightest moon rise as we sipped coffee, ate dinner, and enjoyed being at one with nature.
I could go on forever about the next days hike. The beautiful changing scenery, breathtaking views, difficult trails, and great conversations were such a joy.
We hiked another 8 miles on the second day. It was so peaceful outside, and because the trails mostly snaked along the mountain-tops, there was very little elevation change throughout the day.
This, coupled with the fact that we had lost a few pounds in supplies and water, made for a much less demanding second day. We were able to walk at a slower pace, really open our eyes, and enjoy God’s creation to the fullest. God is so good.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
But amidst all of creation, one man-made thing caught our eye:
If Bryan and I had any idea what we were doing, we probably would have realized sooner what these little piles of stones meant. They were trail markers, signaling that we were on the correct path, encouraging us to continue on the trail.
Previous hikers had gone before us, explored the trails, and marked the best pathway for future travelers to take.
If only we had known about stacked rocks during the first mile of our journey.
Once we realized what the stacked rocks meant, we began to relax even more on our hike. Now we didn’t continually need to consult the map, we could move forward with the confidence that someone had gone before us, marked the best path for us to take, and was leading us closer towards our goal.
And then it hit me like one of the stacked rocks across the head.
Jesus went before us.
Jesus marked our path.
He stacked rocks.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.”
It really doesn’t get any better than that.
Actually, it does!
You see, Bryan and I have no idea who stacked the rocks along our trail. We trusted that they were leading us the right way, but couldn’t be totally sure.
But we can remain confident that the one who goes before us and will never leave us, the one who leads the blind in unknown ways is leading us along the right path.
What an amazing God we serve!
These stacked rocks made me think back on the last few years of my life. Looking back I can clearly see how God was leading me along an unfamiliar path. I can see the stacked rocks, like checkpoints or milestones, encouraging me to go forward in faith.
From high school, to college, to career.
From dating, to engagement, to marriage.
Mission trips, vision trips, moving to Lesotho.
All milestones that required God’s direction.
Piles of stacked rocks that both encouraged me to more forward,
And challenged me to continually seek God’s leading.
The last night on the trail we camped by an awesome river. After another great meal and several cups of coffee, we drifted off to sleep. Tired but proud of our accomplishment.
The final two miles of the journey came early in the morning. We followed the last few piles of stacked rocks along the river, actually across the river, and back to our car.
What an amazing experience!
I am looking forward to another few nights in the woods soon!