Preparing for the Journey

It's finally here!  Our annual hiking trip to those beautiful North Georgia mountains!  
There's no place I'd rather be than surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Trail.  We look forward to completing another section of the trail each year, with the goal to complete all of Georgia and North Carolina.  We plan and train each year for these trips in order to be prepared for each new adventure, for you never know what you'll find along your journey. 

Speaking of journeys, as I studied today's lesson in my Journey devotional magazine, I was reminded of the symbolism that can be found so often both in the physical and in the spiritual aspects of our lives. There are hills and valleys, joy, and pain.  There is no place I feel closer to God than in the mountains. Sure, he is with me wherever I go, but the symbolism of the highs and lows as we both climb and descend each mountain, bring a renewed awareness of life's journey. More often than not, Jesus uses experiences in my life to speak something to me in that moment. If it's something I really need to grasp, He will use more than one situation or individual to reinforce His message to me. So I shouldn't be surprised that our small group time at church last Sunday spoke directly to me as well.

During our time together, we were studying the book of Matthew and were reminded that it is Christ who gives us true rest. His words instruct us, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light".
Matthew 11: 28-30 (NKJV). 

Having just had a conversation with our small group leader about our upcoming backpacking trip, he gave the example of a heavy backpack and the discomfort it can give while doing strenuous hiking. He compared the backpack to a yoke.  Then he made a statement that I've never thought about. He brought attention to the fact that Christ tells us that His "yoke" is easy. But that doesn't mean the work He has called us to do will be. 

We each have different crosses to carry in this life, and we may think that what we are called to do is too hard. Maybe it is...in our own strength. But when we put on the yoke of Christ and allow Him to lead us, He will help us carry that cross and what burdens us. As the old saying goes, "If He calls us to it, He will see us through it".  We get through it by trusting in Him and preparing for the pain that we will all encounter in this world at some point. We prepare by spending consistent, quality time in the Word and in prayer to our Father. 

In recent months, I have experienced alot of heartbreak and pain in a situation that I have no control over. A situation that I know in my heart that is not of God and is very concerning to my spirit. But God has been doing a work in me and has not only given me His joy, but He is strengthening me for the difficult days that lie ahead. 

Even without this particular situation in mind, I can think of numerous reasons in the natural to be anxious and afraid. This sinful world that we live in is completely out of control. But in the face of that, I am determined to enjoy my time here on this earth and do my best to be "salt and light" to the lost. I believe that we can have joy in the journey and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding when we allow Christ to come along with us on our journey. 

I love life and try to look for the little things each day to be grateful for...and there are so many. I want to make each moment count and not have any regrets when the time comes for me to take my last breath. I want to finish my race strong, so with each step along life's path, no matter how hard the climb, I will continue to trust in Him, for He has already conquered the world!  The God of the mountain is still God in the valley, and I know I can trust Him to guide me and see me through to the end.

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