Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime III
Pausing on the Trail The Practice of Daily Quiet Time
As I am writing this section of the study guide I am experiencing things in my own life that are really giving me a new appreciation for taking some quiet time every day. I am being reminded of the critical importance of stopping along the trail to rest and be refreshed.
My goal in this portion of this study is two-fold. First, I want you to understand and accept that taking some time everyday to spend some quiet time with God and His Word has to be a part of your life on this journey. Second, I want to give you some key tools that will help you in your quiet time on the journey.
Years ago I had some pretty lofty dreams. One of those dreams was to take six months and hike the entire Appalachian Trail. I have hiked parts of it in New England and even hiked a little around the start of the trail in Georgia. However, I have not taken the time to make the entire trek. I haven’t even hiked a respectable fraction of the trail. At my age and in the physical condition I am in now I doubt that dream will be realized. Now I look forward to hiking the trails of gold in heaven in eternity.
I have, however, had opportunities throughout my life to spend time with people who have done the whole trail. One man, now in his eighties, had made the trek a dozen times in his life, most recently when he was 70 years old. Needless to say I was a little embarrassed and ashamed that I had let my body get to the point that it seems impossible to even consider the hike now. These people shared a lot of their experiences, and every one of them had unique and thrilling experiences.
When I asked these hikers what advice they would give to someone who was considering taking the trip they almost all said the same thing.. Besides looking at me as if to say, “You can’t be serious.” The first thing they would say was not to try it if there wasn’t a tremendous commitment. I learned that the majority of people who set out to make the hike give up within the first hundred miles because it’s hard. If a person isn’t totally committed to the trip they won’t make the trip. When the weather is contrary, when the muscles and bones are in agony, when you see the distance before you, the temptation to step off the trail is incredible. Without a commitment in your heart and soul you will give in and quit.
The second piece of advice they offered was somewhat surprising and unexpected. Almost universally they said that on the trail it was critical to stop and rest frequently. Many of the people who leave the trail leave because they allow themselves to get exhausted and worn down by failing to stop along the trail and rest. Trying to go from sun up to sun down would leave many casualties along the trail. Each of these successful hikers averaged eight hours of sleep or slightly more each night. They stopped and rested several times throughout the day as they were hiking. Younger inexperienced hikers would breeze past them as they stopped to rest, but few of these folks would see the end of the trail.
These two elements, commitment and rest, are also critical parts of our journey on the trail as followers of Jesus. It does take a commitment in faith to follow Him. The trail the believer walks will sometimes be extremely difficult, and we have to place our faith and trust in Jesus all the way. Resting is just as critical. We are engaged in a spiritual conflict that is immense in scope. The fight we face will take all our spiritual energy and stamina. If we don’t stop to rest we may find ourselves defeated along the trail.
That’s what your quiet time offers. You need to understand how important this is. Unfortunately, as with many other things, the only way we learn some of these things is to face the hardship that ignoring this advice can bring.
In the next post I’ll share some of my lessons that I learned the hard way about this.
(to be continued)