Wilderness, hiking, and God all connect through active involvement. Nothing passive about any of the three components, they complement one another.
The wilderness is full of active wildlife. Part of the thrill of exploring is sighting any one of our native creatures. From tarantulas to black bear, nesting birds to leaping deer, they’re out there. The air is fresh and clean with amazing, living panoramic views.
Hiking inherently is active, one step in front of the other,and is healthy, physical activity. I am completely involved in the process, checking the ground before me for tracks to distinguish and identify, pausing time to time to take-in the vibrant wildflowers, savoring the delicate scents surrounding me. The only limits are what one puts upon their self. Do I summit today or leisurely stroll a bit, rest near the water and watch for an opportunistic animal sighting or enjoy a light picnic lunch? Either way, I’m actively involved.
God is actively involved in my life, I only need to open my ears to hear Him and respond. He not only changes my character but my way of thinking and how I problem solve. I am completely dependent upon His protections during my hikes and He has displayed His involvement in stunning, clear ways.
I began to notice parallels between my physical journey and my spiritual journey the more I hiked. The challenges in my walk of faith and in my physical climbing had commonalities. For instance, as I climbed to higher elevations I needed to rest part way up, also to refuel my body in order to reach my goal of summiting the mountain. As I rested, I felt the Lord speaking to me about my Christian walk and how I needed to rest in Him, especially when the going got tough in times of testing and trials, to “refuel” through reading the bible and prayer, or just talking to Him, in order to reach my goal of a better understanding of Him and His purpose for my life.
As I incorporate the Lord in my hikes, I can be peacefully communicating with Him verbally and non-verbally as I travel and climb. He is always there with me, which increases my sense of peace. He is my Guard and my Guide all while being the sacred, holy, living and uncreated God that He is. He has rescued me numerous times and I am learning from my mistakes. I hope that by my writing about my explorations that the reader will learn from my mistakes for their smooth transition into “taking a hike” and also to expand their relationship with the one and only true, living God. Thankfully, it’s not difficult.
What makes my connection with God different, you ask…
My relationship with Him is quite different from where it was pre-cancer. The trial and “wilderness experience” of going through the challenges of the disease opened me up to cry out to my God in desperation. I realized that I was calling upon Him only when facing difficult trials, which verified to me that the relationship aspect of my Christianity was painfully, shamefully lacking on my part. I was effectively treating Him as a spiritual Santa Clause; please give me this, I need this as well as that, and oh help now!
As I hiked, and had hours and hours of peaceful alone time, I began to simply chat with Him. And He faithfully responded. My connection with God now is an ever-increasing bond combined with being “teachable”; learning.
Want to know what I learned from hiking?
I’m very glad that I had the wilderness leadership training; I have learned new skill sets that I can use both physically and spiritually.
For instance, learning what to pack, best time of day and year to travel, and efficient use of my limited physical strength helped me to apply these principles to my spiritual walk as well. I need to spiritually reduce the “load” or burden that I carry by giving Him my problems and concerns, to start my day on the right track with prayer, and to strengthen my spirit through reading the bible and applying my spiritual armor. I’m learning how to best protect myself, and which pitfalls and dangerous paths to avoid; how to pay attention, and to be observant.
I’m building a sense of adventure, exploration, and amazingly … imagination. I always knew there was life beyond the parameters of my home, but I wasn’t experiencing life beyond my comfort zone, not like I’m joyfully experiencing in the wild.