A few years ago, my son and I joined a friend and his son on a hiking and camping trip through part of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. We planned to hike about 25 miles in 3 days, tent camping for the 2 nights that we were on the trail. At one point, during lunch on the second day, we met someone. After thinking about this encounter, I realized that it was – in some ways – a parallel to my spiritual journey. I shared the story with my friend Dan from “Some Church Stuff.” He said the story paralleled his own spiritual journey in a different way. He also said that he was going to steal my story and write a post of his own. So, before Dan took credit for my story in his post “The Wrong Way,” I thought I would publish something about this story too.
While we were getting ready for our hike, we loaded our backpacks with tents, sleeping bags, food, clothes, cooking utensils, more food, rain gear, camp stoves, even more food, and snacks, among other things. Altogether, between the four of us, we carried about 150 lbs on our backs as we stepped onto the Appalachian Trail. We would hike for several hours each day, then camp at night. During the second day, while we were stopped for a lunch break, a man ran up and asked if he could eat lunch with us. He was only carrying a water bladder on his back, and a small belt pouch for light food. As we talked to him, we realized that he was planning to run (yes, run) the exact same route that we were hiking. The difference: we were walking the route in 3 days while he was running that route in less than 1 day.
Now, granted, during this hiking and camping trip, my friend and I planned to spend time with our sons. It turns out that we packed way too much stuff even for this plan. And, that extra stuff weighed us down and negatively impacted our trip.
But, as I thought about the encounter with the guy who was running the trail, I started wondering… What if our plan was simply to make our way along the path? If that was our plan, then all of that stuff severely limited our ability to progress along the trail.
The other man was able to progress along the same trail faster and easier than the four of us.
As I look back on my spiritual journey, I see that I was also carrying along a lot of baggage, stuff that was hindering my progression as I desired to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ. I was told that some of this stuff was necessary. Other stuff I picked up along the way. But, in the end, I was in hindered by stuff that I thought I needed. In fact, the opposite was true – I did not need any of it.
Over the last few years, I’ve found it’s possible to make it along the trail without all of that stuff. Now, it’s true, all metaphors break down at some point. But, I’ve learned alot about myself and how God has changed my view about discipleship and following Jesus by thinking about this man that I met on the Appalachian Trail.
(Once you read my post, and understanding that this story is completely my own, jump over to Dan’s post and see what he has to say…)