The joy of hiking

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 12, 2021

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Someone recently asked me to recall a moment in my life that brought me great joy. The enormity of the question overwhelmed me because there have been so many great moments. Like when I completed my last exam in college, the day I graduated from the Naval Academy, the day I got married, the day I earned my submarine dolphins or the time we stayed up all night to get my submarine underway to evade a storm. Or the moment when I first held my children, watched them score their first goal, cheered as they graduated or cried when they got married.

But in the midst of all of these spectacular moments, my mind settled on a different moment. The day I climbed Mount Rogers with my daughter. Then he asked me why I chose that moment. It could have been the thrill of climbing the highest mountain in Virginia, the spectacular views along the way or the opportunity to spend the day with my daughter. But I just like hiking. Hiking is so liberating because I go into the wilderness where there is no to-do list to work on, no telephone to answer and no email to respond too. I can’t change the weather. I can’t change the trail, and I can’t change the lunch that I packed. When I’m hiking the only thing I can do is to put one foot in front of the other until I get to the end of the trail and enjoy the spectacular moments that God gives me along the way. There is great joy in just enjoying the trail.

Finally, this person asked me what this means for my walk with the Lord. Consider God’s word from 1 John 3:1. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins, and then He sent the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, to give us faith. That makes Jesus’ death our death and his resurrection our resurrection to new life. We are born again to new life as children of God, and there is great joy in just enjoying the trail with our heavenly Father.

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Unfortunately, like most children, we look forward to growing up and becoming independent. Independence means that we stop depending on our Father. We become responsible for our success, knowledge, happiness and future. That responsibility weighs heavily upon us, sapping our strength and our joy. Today, God invites us to come home. To just be a child again and allow Him to be our Father. If we trust in earthly fathers to protect, feed, clothe, teach, house and give us a future, then we can certainly trust in our heavenly Father to do the same. When we do, we’re set free to find great joy along the trail! Happy hiking!

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at