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Hiking for Life Lessons

By Jason Elkins

My wife Shelli and I have been blessed with some great friends.  My mother will say “it’s because you are great friends to others”…but I know our friends are a gift from God.
Tim is the kind of friend that gives you a real hug when he sees you. He’s the kind of friend that plays with your kids because he’s happy to see them too.  Tim will listen to you when you talk, ask the RIGHT questions and won’t just side with you because he’s your friend.  He always has a word of encouragement and notices the little things. We look forward to his visits, and always end up with sore ribs from laughing so hard during our time together.
Tim is an ‘outside the box’ thinker.  A naturalist, Christian, and definitely has different ideas than the ‘mainstream’.  He left his high paying computer job a few years ago to go build handmade wooden boats in Maine.  This has made him a type of not-being-held-down-by-the-man hero to my family.  While he was there, he developed a love of hiking and made a decision to hike the Appalachian Trail.  For the next year, he worked, paid off debt and saved up 6 months’ worth of income and hiked ALL 2,172 miles over a 6 month period.  Wikipedia says The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply The A.T., is a 2000+-mile marked hiking trail in the eastern United States, extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine.  Along the way, the trail also passes through the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.
He visited us a week after he had been off the trail. His beard was still thick and his body was thin and chiseled.   My daughter Kianna was 7 years old at the time, and after hearing us talk about the hike for awhile, chimed in with “why didn’t you just take a CAR?!”
This weekend, I was reminded of a story he told us when he was visiting.  We had a great sermon Sunday at LifeChurch.Tv about Jonah that dealt with following the will of God and not leaving loose ends. 
Tim told us that on a particularly tough hike through West Virginia he rubbed his left heel raw.  He didn’t have the proper bandages (or had run out already) so he started overcompensating to take the pressure off his heel.  This overcompensation wreaked havoc on his body.  His right knee was sore, his hips ached and his back was so stiff after 2 days of hiking, he had to take an extended break and rest.   He said it was a great lesson on dealing with issues as they come up, instead of ignoring them or covering them up with a temporary fix.
What are you ignoring?  What is creating a limp or pain in your life that you need to address?  I would encourage you to talk with someone today.  Make that phone call that you have been putting off.  Get some help for that unresolved issue.  And….Pray. The Bible reminds us that we are not alone when we need some help. James 1:5 says:  5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Copyright Jason Elkins


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