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Lessons from the Trail 2 – Preparation

Posted by on Oct 14, 2008 in discipleship | 7 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 preparation.

We did very little to prepare for this hike. My son and I bought new hiking boots (actually he bought hiking shoes), and we walked around in them for a few days to break them in. We also borrowed some equipment: backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, camp stoves, etc. We bought some food. Also, our wives bought us some hiking pants from REI (where another friend works), which turned out to be awesome for our hike!

My friend bought a couple of trail guide books that we used to prepare as well. We read through the introductory material about the Appalachian Trail, hiking, and camping in general, and we read through the parts of the book that detailed the trail that we planned to hike. This was the extent of our preparation.

Looking back, I would have walked several miles a day for a few days leading up to our trip. I especially would have looked for a section with steep ascents and descents to prepare my leg muscles for the upcoming ordeal. I think this would have been the most important preparation for hiking and camping.

What did this preparation – or lack of preparation – teach me about life? Well, first of all, I often prepare for life in the wrong way. As much as education is important, education does not really prepare someone for life. In the same way, neither obtaining possessions nor reading about life prepares someone to actually live life.

What’s the best preparation for living life? Actually living. I realize that this sounds simple, but its something that I need to keep in mind. If I want to learn to do something, I can read and study about it, but I won’t truly learn it until I do it. For example, last year I knew that God was leading me toward working more closely with the poor. I read a couple of books about serving the poor. But, I didn’t really learn about the joys and struggles of working with the poor until I actually started doing it.

Also, and in a secondary sense, I learned the importance of having relationships with people who had already done it – who had already lived through what I was living through. In my hiking / camping example, several friends loaned us equipment, showed us how to use the equipment, and gave us tips for the trip. Another friend who works at REI helped us with supplies, finding water, etc. Notice, these people were helpful because they had already done it! They had already been hiking and camping over several days like we were planning to do.

Experience is a very important part of preparation for life – both our own experience and the experience of those around us. If we want to prepare for life, we need to learn from those who are actually living life, and we need to learn as we live life ourselves. In other words, there’s nothing like “on-the-job-training”.

What do you think is the best preparation for life?


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. 10-14-2008

    Preparing for life by living it sounds easy to do, but it means putting aside your preconceptions and walking through life as God intends you to walk.

    The hardest part of living life is hearing what it has to offer, listening to the soft but sure voice telling you what you need to do, not listening to the braying trumpet of your own pride.

  2. 10-14-2008

    Like Andy said, getting rid of preconceptions is often a good thing. Since life, unlike the App is not clearly laid out and every traveller’s path is different, seeking advice from others is good but you need to be flexible and willing to roll with punches.

  3. 10-14-2008

    The best preparation for life…to disciple and being discipled.

  4. 10-14-2008


    You’re right. It is not easy to simply live life, and it isn’t easy to listen to anything other than your pride. I’m glad that we’re not alone while trying to do this.


    Yes, the AT is clearly laid out, but it doesn’t change from year to year. So, you still have to tread carefully. Being flexible and rolling with the punches is extremely important! Thanks!


    I think you summed it up very well. For me, be discipled is learning from those who have walked the trail before you, and discipling is taking along others with you.


  5. 10-14-2008

    Get out of my head! 🙂 How can I say anything original if you answer Keith the way you did? 🙂

  6. 10-15-2008

    My husband is a Vocational College teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard their motto: “learn by doing”.

    At home it is also the major component of bringing up our girls. Learn by doing, and do a lot.

    And yes it is very important to disciple and very important to listen, humble yourself and listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching you through a person and a situation. Leaning not on our own understanding.

  7. 10-15-2008

    Aussie John,

    I apologize. Next time I’ll let you answer instead of stealing your thoughts. 🙂


    “Learn by doing, and do alot”. I like that. Thanks!



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