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Lessons from the Trail 3 – Watching

Posted by on Oct 16, 2008 in discipleship | 2 comments

In this series, I’m writing about life lessons that I learned while hiking part of the Appalachian Trail with my son and two friends. This “Life Lesson” is about watching.

As we were walking along the Appalachian Trail, we had to watch carefully. What did we watch?

First, we watched our feet. We had to be very careful about where we placed our feet. Sometimes the path was rocky; sometimes it was slippery; sometimes there were roots. (I’ll write about this more in another “Life Lesson”.)

Second, we had to watch the trail ahead. The trail had been marked for us by previous hikers, but there were side trails as well. We had to look ahead to make sure that we were on the right trail. (I’ll write about this more in another “Life Lesson”.)

Third, we had to watch one another. We were walking together. The person in front could not get too far ahead, and the person bringing up the rear could not fall too far behind. (I’ll write about this more in another “Life Lesson”.)

Finally, we had to keep an eye on our guide book. The book told us what we could expect from the trail ahead. We knew when to stop, when to rest, and when to keep going because of the guide book. In the guide book, the authors described what they experienced as they walked the trail.

But, this is where the problem came in. Sometime the book was very helpful. At other times, the book was not as helpful. On the first day, we had planned to take a side trip down to a campground in order to replenish our water supply. The book told us to look for a certain road, then a trail marked with blue which led to the campground. We never saw the road. We’re not sure if the Appalachian Trail had been moved (which happens), or if we were looking for a blacktop road while the book was talking about an old overgrown road.

At other times, we would read the guide book, and each one of us would interpret it differently. One said that we should keep going, according to the book. Another said we should stop, according to the book. What should we do?

There were even a few times that we came to an intersection or an obstacle, and we were not sure what to do. The book did not mention that intersection or obstacle. Again, what should we do?

It was during times like these that we wished we could talk to the people who wrote the guide book. We wished that we had someone along who could answer our specific questions. Unfortunately, those people were not available for us, so we had to do our best.

Of course, in life, we have Scripture that’s very similar to our guide book. Scripture is certainly not a list of rules, but it is an account of how God dealt with his children in the past. We can learn from their experiences with God. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 ESV)

But, even reading Scripture consistently, we will still run upon decisions that are not “covered” by Scripture. What do we do? We must keep our eye on our Guide. Remember that we are not left with ONLY Scripture in the same way that we only had a guide book on our hike.

God has promised to be with us and to never leave us. He has promised to never forsake us. He has promised to give us everything that we need. The author of the book is walking through life with us.

There are many things that can become obstacles in our life. But, as the author of Hebrews reminded us, we can know that we are on the right path by keeping our eyes focused on the one who has walked before us and who walks with us:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

While “hiking” through your life, have you found it easier to keep your eyes on Jesus, or other things?


Lessons from the Trail:
1. Introduction
2. Preparation
3. Watching
4. Burdens
5. Leaders


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-16-2008

    I love how God teaches us through creation and daily life. I recently posted about squirrels because of something that resonated in my heart as I watched a squirrel run across a telephone wire. God is infinitely wise!

    As far as my focus… it is way too easy to distract me. May I continue to become more like Jesus.

  2. 10-16-2008


    You would think that after years of following Jesus, it would be more difficult to be distracted. That’s not always the case, unfortunately. Thanks for the comment!