“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
My hiking partner Jed and I were about three quarters of the way through the nearly 6-month journey of hiking the Appalachian Trail when potential disaster struck. We had been cruising through so fast we hit Virginia. Virginia is important because, as just one state, it houses nearly one quarter of the entire AT. We had been hiking really fast which is a good thing but also has consequences; let me explain.
For several months before we left we were tasked with creating packages of food and supplies to be mailed throughout the AT-there is a book that provides a complete list of post offices along the trail that hikers have access to. We did the best we could to “plan” how fast and far we would hike in between food shipments. It was a daunting task and one we did pretty well with-until Virginia.
We had been hiking so fast and furious that we skipped a food drop because had we waited for it we would have had to wait several days. What 18-year-old kid-how had just walked well over a thousand miles can wait a couple days in a town in the middle of nowhere? A smart one with the gift of hindsight would have. We instructed the post master to RTS the package so that our family could repackage and send in the future. It seemed to be a really good idea on paper. We quickly hit the trail again. We kept up our furious pace and finally arrived at the next post office drop and again had a decision to make. We were down to a couple packets of oatmeal, half a tub of squeeze butter, some ramen noodles, a handful of trail mix, and three granola bars. The next post office was nearly two weeks FAST hiking-faster than we were already hiking.
We phoned our family and explained what had happened. Herein lies the challenge. Neither of us had any cash or credit/debit cards. Because we had gone so fast our family had not yet sent out the next package to where we were. We could of course wait but that would have taken about a week or so once they even mailed the package-I believe we called on a Saturday afternoon. We could also keep going with the tiny bit of food we had left. We continued to look at the map and the daunting miles ahead of us. Maybe we should quit, we thought. Maybe this was a sign that we were to throw in the towel and just go home. A mistake like this was huge after all. We called our family again and they told us to take the night and think about it but they supported fully our decision. My dad said to trust in God and God will provide. My rumbling stomach said otherwise.
We headed to a lean-to back at the head of the AT access point and made camp. I had gone about looking for firewood when I heard Jed screaming for me. In the corner of the lean-to was a large bin filled with food and a sign that said “Take what you need and leave what can-many miles to the next town in either direction”. We told our parents we had a miracle and would continue and we did.
Trusting in God is much easier to do when everything is going well. I remember that feeling of joy at our answered prayers like it was yesterday. I know many of us are going through terrible storms right now. Many in our pews are facing financial difficulties, spiritual struggles, battles with addiction, broken or strained relationship hurts, and many other challenges. Jeremiah is telling us that blessed is those who truly trust in God. Lay that concern or hurt or brokenness at God’s feet and let God shoulder that burden. Trust that God is in control and that while we may not understand the struggle-trust that God is using you for good, strengthening you, and most importantly always with you and loving you.
I pray we lift each other up this week. Truly trusting in God is so much harder than just loving God. We have our arms crossed across our chests on the edge of the platform with our back to the group of people. Trust. We either trust they won’t let us drop or we don’t. Remember that God is always there for us no matter what, working all things for Good.
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November 24, 2019
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