My husband and I love walking. By that I mean we enjoy packing a picnic, driving to some pretty location and walking through the countryside. We’ve amassed a large collection of books, brochures and maps relating to walking in the countryside over the years and always look forward to finding new areas to visit.
Last weekend I came across a magazine in which there were details of the kind of circular walk we enjoy and we hadn’t even heard of the place before, let alone been there! Five-and-a-half miles sounded like a pleasant walk which we estimated would take us about two hours, plus a lunch stop en route. The write-up promised a “lovely walk through the delightful patchwork of fields, enjoying some thirst-quenching views along the way”. We were told to look out for buzzards, bullfinches, swifts and swallows. So off we went.
We had only gone 100m when we came across the first problem – the gate through which we were supposed to go wouldn’t open – it was jammed and chained! After about five minutes of “gentle persuasion” the gate opened far enough for us to squeeze through (welcome all walkers!).
The path then became a mere track, wide enough only for one person at a time. This was extremely rocky and had potholes all along, not to mention large, fresh cow pats!!
When the instructions said “you now reach a field” (and this occurred very often as the walk progressed) we discovered that the fields were either ploughed right up to the fence, thus making it very difficult to negotiate our way, or else it was planted with crops. On one occasion we were actually walking between rows of sweet corn higher than both of us!! Not a pleasant walk at all.
So, back to the instructions. “Follow the path (aka narrow track!) uphill, enjoying breath-taking views should you need to catch your breath!!” But there was a reward at the end – downhill again – steeply.
It wasn’t all bad, though, as several of the gates and stiles, were, in fact, still in good condition and easy to negotiate.
Remembering that a walk of this length usually takes us two hours, we were getting rather anxious when, after 2½ hours we were less than halfway round. As we still hadn’t seen a place to stop for lunch we decided to sit on a stile just off the main track and eat our lunch there. It was extremely uncomfortable and even worse when we discovered that we were right beside a wasps’ nest. Instant evacuation, lunch barely started!!
We were about two-thirds of the way round when I heard my husband say, “Oh, no! I wish we’d read this bit before.” On investigation, I discovered that he’d noticed a short paragraph as follows: “Follow this downhill path until you turn onto a narrow uphill path and climb to meet a crossing path” So far, so good. Then it continued in brackets: “(At the time of writing some fallen tress had blocked this path. The council has been alerted but if the blockage is still there……continue straight up the path etc etc). It was still blocked!!
I think it was at this point that we began to despair of ever having taken this on! After hiking over such rough terrain it had been impossible to call it a “walk”; I would say it was even more than a hike. (I can now empathise with the soldiers on training exercises!!).
But, as with all things it came and to an end, and what was the best view we saw on the walk?
We arrived back at the car 4½ hours after starting – and enjoyed our picnic in comfort.
When I arrived home I began to realise just how much that walk was like our daily lives . We have ups and downs, too, even as Christians. We may wonder why this or that is happening, but if we hold firm to God’s Word then He will see us through these times of trial.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29 verse 11)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8 verse 28)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3 verses 5- 6)