My most adventurous friend and I decided we needed a little time in the great outdoors so we picked a place, set our Google Maps and off we went. We chose what we believed to be a moderate hike up Yonah Mountain, about an hour north of Atlanta. We were excited to stretch our legs, breathe in the fresh, cold air, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
We started our watches to count elevation gain and heart rate and bounded up the start of the trail. We waved and “hello’d” our fellow hikers and stopped to pet the excitable dogs passing by. We were unstoppable - bounding over fallen trees and jumping over treacherous rocks. Nothing could slow us down!
It felt like we had gone 10 miles up until we looked at our watches - .33 miles up. And by this point, our energy was starting to wane. As we continued on, the water breaks became more frequent, the breathing became heavier, and my trusty hiking boots began to betray me by starting to rub large blisters on both my heels.
My friend kept up her steady pace but I disguised my sloth-like walk as “taking in the scenery.” By mile 1.5, I was wiped. I didn’t know if I could continue climbing but I saw my friend taking step after step and I reluctantly followed after.
I kept saying to myself, “Just put one foot in front of the other,” and “Don’t be a weenie - you’re going to the top of this mountain.” My blistered feet were saying something else entirely…
As we reached the final leg of the initial climb, we started skating (read: slipping) on sheets of ice from the previous day's snowfall. We held each other’s hands and carefully moved up the path. “I think the top is around that curve…” Nope. “It’s got to be close…” Nope.
It seemed like the mountain kept moving the crest like Lucy and the football.
Finally, we saw sunlight peeking out through the bare trees and after a few more steps, made it to the top of the mountain. I would say it was a breathtaking scene but I would be lying. It had taken us so long to get up the mountain because of my frequent stops and the icy path that the view was basically a filmy picture made even hazier by the winter sun. Nevertheless, my friend and I were elated to reach the top at last. We rested for about 10 minutes and then began our descent.
Back down the icy path, avoiding muddy puddles, and at times, jogging to beat the sunset. After a quick trip back down the mountain we reached her car.
We drove to the nearest town and ate every carb we could put into our tired bodies, sat in our fullness, and breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
As we were driving back home, I was thinking how thankful I was to have someone who was faster to keep me moving forward. To have someone who was strong while I was struggling. My friend was the one thing that stood between me and getting caught on an unfamiliar trail in the dark.
That’s what God is for us - he’s the reason we don’t get caught in the dark. His strength empowers us when we’re weak. He goes before us to show us what rocks to step on, what logs to jump over, and what’s around the next bend.
Isaiah 40:29 says “God is our strength in our weakness…” How many times have the pains in life told you to give up, to turn around? And yet, God takes those things and turns them into power to take one more step and get up the mountain.