The Necessity of Preparation for the Trail Paths
Life has many twists and turns just like paths on the trail and if you do not choose wisely you can wind up lost, disoriented, and unprepared for what you may face. We can easily compare our life paths very much to hiking on the backwoods trails and much of it follows theÂ scout motto of “Be Prepared”.
Some years agoÂ we foundÂ ourselves out in the Rockies specifically, Rocky Mountain National Park, for only a few days.Â Â Because time was short we felt we needed to see everything that we couldÂ see in those few days we had to at least climb theÂ Mummy MountainÂ Range with Chapin/Chiquita/ Ypsilon in the Estes Park region.Â This was our first trip out west so hiking and climbingÂ 12,000Â and 13,000 feet elevations to us was an achievement. We had heard this was a beautifulÂ seven mile round trip hike to soaringÂ heights with spectacular views that could be done in and out in a day with no overnight.Â It was everything we had hoped and dreamedÂ of andÂ we have very fond memories of that day, well for the most part.
Our research for this trip was brief, ok really nonexistent as we just happened to stop by the Visitor’s Center on our way inÂ and speak to a ranger. So our map and information came fromÂ that ranger and other hikers who added their advice about the trail paths of the Mummy Range. WeÂ did not start out as early as we should have and were not as prepared as we probably should have been. This is important to note because for some reason the Mummy’s attract afternoon storms. WeÂ receivedÂ warningÂ about the daily afternoon storms andÂ information to not be on the trail paths when they came in.
We knew that we wanted to get to Ypsilon and then turn around and head back so with our goal in mind, provisions of food, water, first-aid kit, and layered clothing we found the trail head off of Old Falls Road, parked, and our adventure began. It was a beautiful day full of sunshine, a clear blueÂ sky, and picture perfectÂ white fluffy clouds dotted in just the right places. Â It seemed simple enough in the beginning and then the trail pathsÂ began to get steeper. We weaved in and out of the forest for a while, viewed beautiful vistas and lakes still with patches of snow in areasÂ and then we topped the tree line andÂ the real climb began. The path was clear in the beginning but now weÂ faced many different paths some most likely made by animal herds. We had to think about what the rangers and other hikers had said and suggested and using our hand sketched map we continued to move forward.
Once we were on the west face of Mt. Chaplin the climb was single file and rocks, lots of rocks, but the paths were pretty clear and obvious. We made our first goal to the top of Mt. ChaplinÂ and continued through the passÂ toward Chiquita after a brief break for lunch. The wind really began to pick up and was strong but we were just above 12,000 feet elevation so we expected the wind.Â We had mostly been on the trail by ourselves but suddenly were seeing more and more people hiking back down the mountain paths as we were just topping our first elevation goal and still had a way to go. They, unlike us, had started early to avoid the afternoon storms. We watched as the clouds began to form but we continued toÂ climbÂ up the now quite steep trail pathsÂ as we had two more mountains to conquer to reach our goal. As we reached the top of ChiquitaÂ the wind was quite cold and strongÂ at 13,069 feet.
The clouds continued to gather and we surveyed the trail paths ahead. TheÂ paths aheadÂ were not really marked except with some cairns however because all the terrain was quite rocky the paths were not clear. The sun was beginning to disappear in the clouds which were gathering faster. There were only three of us on the top of Chiquita at this time, ourselves and a businessman who had flown into Denver and on a whim decided to rent a car and hike the CCY. He was less prepared than we were but as the clouds formed thickerÂ this argument was really not of concern.Â WeÂ decided to turn around butÂ the businessman decided he was forging ahead and we promised to tell the rangers of his decision so they would know he was on the trail. We were not prepared forÂ a storm. We had not planned ahead, thought seriously about our end goal, and certainly didn’t have the provisions to weather a storm like the one that was appearing to be inevitable. We had only loosely thought about where we hoped to go on the trail paths. There was no way of course to know what we could face on the trail paths when we started that morning but then we had started this hike really on just the hunch that it was something we wanted to do.
It seemed easy enough. The distance wasn’t far, the climb not impossible, the path was initially simple all we had to do was follow but then the clouds gathered and we were not prepared. The paths of life are like the trail paths. It seems to be right in front of you, that easy path. You know the one, the one that everyone else is doing because they say it is easy or it isÂ the way to peace and posterity. But the easy paths are not usually the one we should take as often what appears to be simple and easy isÂ sometimes peppered with storm clouds along the way and if you are not prepared then you find yourself in trouble as you have no provisions to pull out of your life bag to lean upon. This week’s focus verse reminds us of just that. The paths that seem like a good idea at the time but really do not require much thought or effort on our part should cause us to think carefully and make sure preparation isÂ the first order. Proverbs 14:12;
The Necessity of Preparation forÂ Life Paths
Our paths in life are very much like the trail paths. Preparation is necessary for all paths andÂ we shouldÂ give cautionÂ on the seemingly easy ones. We thought on this day in Rocky Mountain National Park that we would do a quick round trip hike, see beautiful vistas, and be able to have the bragging rights to say we had hiked the CCY. Instead weÂ found ourselves unpreparedÂ and what started off as a seemingly easy hike turned into major climbs and an impending storm that we were not expecting which caused us to abruptly end our hike, not reach our end goal, and return in a hasty way down the trail paths we had just a few hours before gone up. But on the decent there were no beautiful vistas just a rush, haste, and worryÂ as the clouds blackened above us and the lightening began to streak the sky in the distance.
In life it is so important that not only weÂ are wary of the easy paths but that we prepare for all paths thatÂ we may take. Preparation requires fore-thought and the best fore-thought we can have begins with God. When we put our plans in placeÂ we must do so with God not only first but last. Our beginning and ending goals start with God on our mind. Romans 8:6 tells us that if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts we willÂ have not only peace but life.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (NLT)
This control only happens when we give ourselves to Christ and follow him as it puts us on a different path. The paths of life are not always clear but we should begin with God and think about what he would want us to do and move forward not only with God in the front of our mind but also as our end goal of eternal life with Him. WeÂ then canÂ move forward as that is the first step of preparation.
So which life paths should we take and how do we knowÂ if we take the wrong one?Â Charles Stanley said that, “It is impossible for a mere human to know every variable and nuance before choosing which path to take. Don’t depend on hunches; make decisions with God in mind being totally submissive.” So by putting God both first and lastÂ in our mind we are ready to step out on the paths of life that perhaps are difficult. In fact if it looks easy and as Joyce Meyers has said in Battlefield of the Mind, sounds reasonable it probably isn’t God. So by getting ourselves prepared in our mind for the paths of life and keeping our end goal of eternal life we are now prepared to choose and move forward on the paths of life. But is there anything else we should do?
If you are like me when the world as I know it crumbles I often wonderÂ did I take the wrong path?Â We areÂ not promised that by following Christ our paths would be easy or that once we got on the paths of life that we would always know the right path to take. (Act 14:22) In addition to our research of prayer and humbleness to God before taking the life paths, we need toÂ pack up someÂ provisions. We cannot allow ourselves to become exhausted without the living waters of Christ through prayerÂ and food of the scripture. They will both strengthen us as we move forward on the paths and will sustain us when we reach the steep rocky cliffs. These are essentials for the trip and we should neverÂ get on any life paths without themÂ for if we begin to get lost or the storms come along the way we can too easily be ledÂ down the wrong pathsÂ if we do not have these life-sustaining provisions.Â The final provision that needs to be taken care of just as if we were hiking the trail paths is that we should never set off alone. We need other believers to help pull us through when weÂ need support along the path even if weÂ take the wrong path because with our mainstay of God,Â fellowship of the church or small group, and support of other believers we will be able to be guided back to the correct paths of life.
Making the Most of Life Paths
We have made preparation for our life paths through faith, the power of prayer, and keeping the end goal of eternity in our mind. We have packed our life-sustaining provisions of scripture and the living waters ofÂ prayer. We have made sure we are not alone on our path having the support ofÂ the church and fellow believers who will either walk with us or know how to check in with us to make sure we are ok on the paths. We need to however remember to make the most of the paths along our way. Sometimes it is hard when the life paths become challenging to look for the beauty as we move forward but it is there along the route if we just look. Sometimes it is in the smallest of things like a refreshing breeze thatÂ arrives just when the air has become so still that we feel we cannot move another step or perhaps the sound of a bird that sings its own song of happiest, or maybe it is just the smile of a fellow human that sees you for you.
I have aÂ very unpretentiousÂ artist friend who throughÂ conversation with meÂ several years ago announced,Â “Well I am what I am and I ain’t what I ain’t”. We laughed about it then and still do but it was really a profound statement and summed up his personality to a tee. I think howeverÂ it is important that we all be exactly who we are and not be anything that we are not along the life paths.Â This is very hard to do when the world is constantly telling us who we need to be and not be and how we need to live and sometimes even trying to convince us to follow the easy paths. I also feel thatÂ weÂ must represent who we really areÂ while we are on the life paths so that we can do all we can do and see all we can see while we are there. I recently read a quote by Jim Elliot, the great missionary,Â as quoted by his wife Elisabeth Elliot in Through Gates of Splendor,
Wherever you are, be all there.
I have since really embraced this quote as itÂ speaks so clearly to me that no matter where we are on the life paths we should strive to be our best while there as we are representatives for God. What we do while we are traveling on that section of the life paths isÂ very important as the journey toÂ ourÂ final destinationÂ plays an important role in achieving that goal.
The JourneyÂ of the Life Paths
Well our experience in the Rockies on our hiking trip of the CCY that ended in only the CCÂ was a valuable lesson. We learnedÂ whenÂ considering aÂ hike onÂ trail pathsÂ that we cannot get caught up in the moment or the rush and must plan, be prepared,Â and make sure we have proper provisions so we can enjoy the wonderful journey along the way to reaching our final destination.
We have also learned that on the life paths we need to do very much the same things. We should alwaysÂ plan ahead with our constant relationship with God through Christ praying not only before we take the life paths but keeping our end goal of eternity consistently on our minds.Â We mustÂ prepare ourselves forÂ possibilities ofÂ confusing paths, steep climbs, and rocky trails. We should pack the provisions we need for strength along the paths with scripture to encourage usÂ andÂ the living waters of Christ toÂ satisfy our thirst. As we travel we need to have the fellowship and support of other believers whether on the life path with us or just checking in with us for support. And finally as we journey the life paths weÂ represent who we truly are, doing all, and seeing all we can while crossing that area. If we will prepare ourselves for the life paths in this wayÂ we will be able to navigate rocky terrain, survive impending storms, and even find the help we need if we do take the wrong life paths.
Have a great week and whatever life path you are on this week and the weeksÂ to follow in the words of Jim Elliot,
Wherever you are, be all there.
Love in Christ,
Do you have a story of a particular life path you have taken that you were not ready for but through God’s grace you made the journey? We invite you to share your experience with other readers. Perhaps you are currently on a steep path or walking across rocky terrain and need the support of other believers we invite you also to tell us your story so we can lift you up with encouraging words and prayers.