Another hiking devotional: The Stress of Life and Hiking
Stressed out and Worrying?
Well, I do not need to tell you this, but life can be stressful, sometimes very stressful. Then there are the times where the stress is about the unknown. Why all this stress, and how does one human handle it in this world?
Here is another tie in from a hike I took to stress in this life. My family went to Florida for a vacation and I stayed to work. So, it was Sunday and they were not scheduled to come back to Tennessee for a couple more days. After service I decided to go on an adventure hike, this time to Clingman’s Dome. This is the highest point in Tennessee with an elevation of 6,644 feet. Fortunately that elevation is mostly covered by a car ride, and if not, this blog would have been a different conversation. I had never been there. The views were amazing, but the last part of the hike to the observation post was rough. I looked like a COPD person trying to get to the top. My lungs burned, I had to stop frequently, and I had cold sweats. There was this gentleman with his son on a backpack apparatus walking like one would at sea level and on level ground. This was not the case and he made me look bad. So, how does this tie in with being stress out and worrying about life?
Life stress involves unknowns. I did not know what this hike was going to entail. It was unknown until I saw the hike uphill and even with that, I could not see the end. I read a sign that gave me a distance to the top, but did not talk about the strenuous walk up there. One mile walking in the Tampa Bay area in Florida is easier than a mile uphill in the Smoky Mountains. So, life has unknowns and that is stressful and a cause to worry. Now let us tie this into a truth in Scripture. First, I could have researched the hike online or in a book and that could have mentally prepared me for the journey. I would not have made the hike easier, but it would have reduced the unknown aspect and created an expectation of the hike for me. It would have reduced or removed the unknown part. This concept is also the way the Bible works with people and life. It does not make the journey easier, but gives insight on how the journey goes. Matthew 6:26 states, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” So, the Lord will care for you, including those unknowns. Does that remove the sting of life, no, but it shows how the journey should be, the Lord will care for you. Jesus also states in verse 27, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” So, if stress and worry do not help, why do we stress out and worry to the point of sickness? If worrying did add a cubit to our height, we all would be playing basketball, but that is not the case, so why worry or stress out. There is healthy stress that keeps us going from day to day but being stress out, not helpful at all. I read a church sign last week that read, “Faith begins where worry ends.” Bottom line, worry does not accomplish anything, except waste time and cause ulcers.
Does reading the Bible (and trusting the Lord) remove all the pain, well, no. Even though I could research the hike, it still would not remove the pain that comes with hiking, especially when you are not in the best of shape. Even days after the hike, my shins were sore and I hobbled at work for a couple of days. James 1:3 states, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Testing of your faith (pain) is needed to go further in life, just like the pain of getting in shape helps you go farther in hiking. There is a method to the perceived madness. Paul says in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We are tempted to worry about our life and tempted to solve it ourselves or back to the worry, stress out. So, with this verse, we see the Lord will bend us, but no break us. That is something to rejoice about.
In closing, the Lord looks after you, worrying does nothing beneficial, and read the Bible to reduce the unknowns of life. It does not reduce ALL the unknown, but you can trust who holds the future, the Lord.