It’s hard to be a guy in a houseful of females. Even our two cats are girls! While my husband has always deftly handled being the lone guy in a sea of women, he faced a big challenge last year when he and our teen daughter were struggling to find something they could “do” together that they could both enjoy. It was an “uphill” battle, no pun intended! Last summer, they hatched a plan to hike the entire Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail – 84 miles – before she graduates from high school. Before I knew what was happening, my Ebay account was getting some serious action as our closets filled with tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots and camping equipment. Recently, I was invited along with them on a section hike, about 7 miles between Neel’s Gap and Hogpen Gap. I learned a few things about myself, God and life that can help us whenever we’re facing a challenge, like starting a Neighborhood Bible Study.You can’t adequately prepare for the steepness of the peaks and valleysI play tennis and do a lot of walking, so I felt pretty good about being able to make the journey, but walking 50 miles on level ground doesn’t compare to the constant up and down of climbing and descending of mountains! I logged about 20,000 steps that day, but only about 195 the following. Why? I could barely walk for three days! But once you’re in the woods, you’re all in, and you just have to trust God with the journey. If I’d known about the pain beforehand, would I have said “yes” to the journey? But, oh, the mountain vistas I would have missed.Hike your own hikeThere’s no single “right” or “wrong” way to take a hike. When you’re tired, you rest. When you see something cool, you pause and check it out. When you need more water, you open your ears to listen for a rushing stream. I learned that God had prepared something amazing for me that day, and I took pleasure in discovering it. Similarly, there’s no right or wrong way to reach out to our neighbors or lead a Bible study. God has prepared something unique – just for you. Trust Him with the journey, and take pleasure in watching His plan unfold.Don’t lose sight of your guideFor this trip, my husband was my guide. He planned every aspect of it, he had the map, the phone, the daypack with my jacket, water and snacks, and he knew exactly where we were going. I was perfectly content to walk a few steps behind him, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. At one point, though, I got lost in my thoughts and when I looked around for him, I could no longer see him. I had a brief moment of panic! What if I’m lost? What if I missed the last white blaze? What if I never get home? Was that a bear??! However, all I had to do was call his name, and I discovered that he was nearby all along. Don’t we do that with God? We wander off the trail sometimes and forget how dependent we are on Him. Fortunately, we can always call His name, and He can be trusted to be nearby. Our ultimate Guide has planned every aspect of our journey, and He has the map.You can do 20 more stepsWe made a very sorrowful error by parking our vehicle at the top of the last mountain instead of at its base. When I learned that we’d have to climb another very steep half a mile to get to our car, I thought I might cry. (I may have cried, who can remember such things?) But to get to where I wanted to go, I had to finish my hike. Legs like jelly, I trusted the Holy Spirit to take me up the hill. “Holy Spirit, help me do the next 20 steps. I can do 20 steps if you’re with me.” When I accomplished those 20 steps, I trusted Jesus with the next 20. That’s what we need to do with our Savior. When we’re positive we can’t take one more step, we can claim the promise that we can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens us. He will help us take the next step. And the next. And the next.When we determine to undertake what might feel like a daunting task such as starting a Neighborhood Bible Study, remember that you can never adequately prepare, but if you’ll trust your Guide, He will help you take the next step in your own, uniquely gifted way!
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2
Find more Fresh Stories here!Erica Rountree is a freelance writer and the communications director at Action Ministries Inc. She lives and works in Marietta, Georgia, where she’s a member of a neighborhood Bible study and mama to two girls who constantly outsmart her and drive her to drink sweet tea.