Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Hiking is Like Walking With the Spirit

Author:  Susan L. Prince

Recently I vacationed in the Smokies with friends who invited me to come with them.  I was blessed beyond measure in so many ways during that vacation, but one particular thing struck me while hiking the Abram's Falls trail in The Great Smoky Mountains, and the thought I had is what developed into this post.

I was walking the trail and now and then would be tripped up by rogue rhododendron roots or rocks jutting up out of the dirt of the trail.  It was rough terrain in some places and I started thinking about how amazing it is that God so made our brains that when I stumble, my brain sends messages to my entire body; arms, legs, ears, eyes, so that it will correct itself in order that I don't completely fall over and get hurt.  My equilibrium is kept by fluids in my inner ear and when thrown off kilter, my arms flail, but only to gain balance as my feet readjust and find footing again.  It bloggles the mind when you think of all the physiological processes that must take place whenever we trip, in order for the human body to react and correct itself.

Then I started considering something else.  I started realizing that as my eyes observed the trail I would make a mental note of where certain obstacles were; rocks in the way, troublesome roots sticking up, sticks obstructing the path, and then I noticed how often my body automatically maneuvered itself to avoid tripping to begin with.  I was able to keep my pace, see an obstacle and duck, or swerve to the side, possibly lift one foot higher off the ground to avoid a rock, or simply lengthen or shorten my stride momentarily to miss a slippery spot on the trail.  My eyes would see the obstacle and immediately my brain sent all the right signals and the appropriate body movements took place to avoid even a stumble.  I didn't have to see the obstacle and conscientiously react; watch my leg, think about lifting it higher so that my foot would avoid the obstacle, no, I simply saw it and my body did what it had to do to avoid danger.  It really happened so quickly that I didn't think about it, I just kept right on walking.

Then it occurred to me that this is something similar to what it is like to walk in the Spirit.

For the believer, the Holy Spirit's purpose is to "guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)  The Spirit "will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)  The Holy Spirit's guidance is of utmost importance as we read God's Word and learn the Truth from it, and equally as important is when we yield to the Spirit; He helps us apply the Truth we learn to the life we live.  This is a mystical process and in I Corinthians 2, we are told why, "we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory....The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."  To those who have not the Spirit of God in them, this is all foolishness, but to those of us to whom the Truth has been revealed, we are guided through life by God Himself.

As we walk through life in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can apply the truth we've learned through God's Word to life, so as troubles arise, we are able to adjust accordingly and overcome the obstacle.  Sometimes we are able to see trouble on the path ahead because the Holy Spirit nudges us to pay attention and see the danger, and then we can completely avoid the problem by staying on course and not veering to the left or the right.  For the most part, walking in the Spirit is that automatic adjustment that happens as we go about our day to day lives, avoiding pitfalls and choices that take us away from the path we are following.  Following the Holy Spirit is not always something we consciously do, but it is putting into practice the precepts we have learned as we walk with God day after day.

Sometimes, like on the trails of The Smokies, the road is bumpy and we get tripped up. The pitfalls and bad choices are always because we choose to believe the lie; the lie that more money will make us happy so we choose this job over that, the lie that alcohol will take away emotional pain, the lie that you need to be married to be happy, the lie that success in your career will be what makes you happy, etc. We may have ignored the warning signals from the Holy Spirit; mystical unctions or maybe warnings fellow believers pointed out, and fell flat on our face because we sought things that would bring only temporary happiness. We may have chosen to fill the emptiness in our lives with something other than God. We may have chosen the way of sin, and then found ourselves suffering terrible consequences.  Eventually, the Holy Spirit will convict us.  The Holy Spirit will woo us back onto the path of the righteousness, and we can readjust our lives again and live according to the Truth.  This often requires a much more conscientious choice to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and get back on the path that He is guiding us to.

While walking those trails in the woods, at some point, I became conscientiously aware of the fact that with every step I took, I was making adjustments in my stride.  Some of the adjustments were hardly noticeable, and others required a lot of maneuvering, but I was always able to stay on course.  I was picturing how the Holy Spirit works in my life when I allow myself to be guided by Him and for the most part, the adjustments I make are daily, but minute and hardly noticeable. Now and then, an obstacle is thrown into my path and because I am a student of the Word, the Holy Spirit reminds me of that truth and then I deal with the issue, adjust my walk and continue moving forward.  Sometimes the problem causes a detour in my life and I stray from the path, but because the Spirit of the Living God resides in me, He is always calling me back to the path that leads straight to God.

Walking in the Spirit is like walking a hiking trail, we need to be attentive at all times and constantly adjust our stride to make sure we always remain on the correct path, because the pay off at the end is much too important to miss!


  1. I'm pretty sure that is the same trail we hiked this past fall! We love the Smokies. So beautiful! Your post is so true, too. I'm enjoying your blog very much. Thanks for the follow on Twitter...that's how I found your blog!

  2. Thanks! I needed to follow some new people for some freshness in the feed. You are supplying that!

    It seems since FB and Twitter came along that blogging has taken a backseat, but now and then I'm inspired so I keep it up along with my friend and sister in Christ, Katie. :)