I am not an avid hiker. So, when my husband invited me to hike Table Mountain with him, I was skeptical. Fourteen miles round trip on a trail rated difficult.
But hoping it would be a fun, shared experience for us, I chose to go.
We began our climb early in the morning, hiking through fields of wildflowers, past burbling streams and melodious waterfalls. Then we scaled tall rocks and trekked up steep switchbacks.
At one point, we side-skirted a moose that wasn’t interested in moving off the trail and later did some back-pedaling to avoid two black bears directly in our path.
We practiced our balancing skills while clambering over a field of loose rock.
We happened on some old friends who we hadn’t seen in years.
As we neared the top, the trail grew steeper and steeper, ending with a precarious scramble up a rock face to the plateau of Table Mountain.
Seated atop the summit, we relished the view while nibbling peanut butter sandwiches.
I felt tired, but oh-so-accomplished. The trail had indeed been difficult, but there had been beauty and blessings and unexpected surprises along the way.
Check “hike Table Mountain” off my bucket list.
Of course, we still had to go back down.
As we started the downhill trek I wondered, had it been this rocky on the way up? Somehow, my toes seemed to hit every rock jutting out of the ground. After three and a half miles, the constant pounding made each step painful. Stopping to soak our feet in the icy water pooled at the base of a waterfall provided a temporary reprieve. But then I had to put my shoes back on.
Every step grew more and more excruciating. Each time we stopped to rest, I dreaded starting again. When I felt certain we must be nearly done, but our GPS said we still had 1.8 miles to go, I wanted to quit. Sit down on the trail and wait for rescue.
Finally, finally, we made it to the bottom.
By the time we had driven home I could barely stand.
For one full week I couldn’t walk.
For one full week my swollen toes made wearing shoes impossible.
For one full week I sat in a chair with my feet elevated.
But I didn’t regret hiking the mountain. If I hadn’t gone, I would have saved myself the pain, but I would have missed out on all the good parts as well.
Sometimes Heavenly Father asks us to take a journey and we’re not sure we want to attempt that hike. The journey might be letting go of an unhealthy habit. It could be forgiving someone who has wronged us, caring for an aged parent, accepting a challenging calling or ministering assignment. It might be returning to school, moving across the country, or serving a mission.
He asks us to do things that are difficult.
Sometimes we are skeptical. We might doubt our ability to do what He asks. We may not want the struggle, the pain, or the sheer amount of work involved. We might not want to give up the comfortable position we currently find ourselves in. But we can trust that when we choose the journey the Lord asks us to take, the trail will always lead to our good.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We must move forward, trusting the Lord to direct our path even when the trail feels difficult or becomes painful, when we don’t know what the journey will entail, or we can’t see what the end will be — when the path feels too long and we want to give up, sit down, and await rescue.
The trail our Savior asks us to hike may be difficult. In fact, it will probably be difficult, because doing hard things is how we grow, how we develop strength.
Elder Stanley G. Wells, in his talk “Do We Trust Him? Hard is Good?” said:
“It is hard for a baby chick to hatch out of that tough eggshell. But when someone tries to make it easier, the chick does not develop the strength necessary to live. . .
Do we have the faith to trust [our Heavenly Father]?” (Stanley G. Wells, “Do We Trust Him? Hard is Good,” October 2017 General Conference).
Doing the hard things, walking the difficult paths, is how we develop the spiritual strength necessary to follow Jesus Christ.
Do we have the faith to trust that the difficult paths will be worth the struggle?
Do we trust the Lord to direct our journey?
As you accept the journey the Lord asks you to take, trust that the rewards will outweigh the difficulties. There will be beauties and blessings and unexpected surprises along the way. When you look back and see those blessings and notice how you’ve been strengthened through the struggle, you will be grateful you chose to hike the mountain.
Cami lives in Idaho with her husband, various family members who come and go, and an energetic Siberian husky. She volunteers as a costume director/seamstress for the drama department at her local high school where she gets to make elaborate clothing most people don’t wear in real life—which is what makes it so fun. She enjoys reading, bird watching, gardening, and Zumba, but her greatest joy comes from being with her family.