But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)]
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)]
I always had a false sense of pride about not using trekking poles when hiking. They were for novices or ersatz hikers—not a seasoned hiker like me. After reading about hiking the Appalachian Trail, however, it occurred to me that I could be mistaken. With my arthritic knees, perhaps I could use a little assistance.
After a few hikes in the Rockies, I am now a proponent of trekking poles. Where, I wondered, are the aching muscles, stiff joints, and sore feet I expected after several strenuous hikes? The poles, however, greatly reduced the impact on my legs, knees, ankles and feet. Why was I able to walk as quickly and steadily? The poles helped propel me forward and maintain a rhythm. Why hadn’t I struggled more on the steeps? The poles increased my traction and helped me maintain my balance. Why hadn’t I been more frightened on the most challenging sections? I felt more secure with the poles’ assistance. Why no scratches from the brambles? The poles helped me push away nuisances like thorny branches. I suppose I could have used them as defense weapons if attacked, but the squirrels and chipmunks posed no threat and the dogs I met were all friendly.
It took a bit of humility to admit that I might need some help when hiking and now I wonder why it took me so long to realize what seasoned hikers have known for so long. Sometimes our relationship with God is that way, as well. We struggle on, exhausting ourselves, defenseless, getting discouraged, struggling, frightened, and even hurt, before admitting, “Lord, I can’t do it alone!” When we finally admit our weakness, He will ease our fears, keep us steady, and provide us with the skill, strength, confidence and protection needed to complete our walk.