My family recently when on vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While there, we went on a hike in Smoky Mountain National Park. It was a beautiful hike, and on the way up, I thought about how similar the hike was to the spiritual walk of a Christian. I am not the only one who has made this sort of comparison. Paul did in Hebrews 12, when he says “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”(ESV).
The mountain itself could be considered time and life, so hiking up the mountain would be walking through life. The steep upward trails represent the hard times and the trials, which make the level and downward paths so much sweeter. Furthermore, with a backpack to carry, it makes the upward hike so much harder. The backpack could represent a struggle or spiritual burden, weighing down the believer to the point of exhaustion. When a friend carries that burden with you, through prayer and fellowship, it makes the climb so much easier.
One could be so focused on climbing up the trail and making it to the top, that he or she might not stop to see the beautiful view. Just because we have to go through life, which takes work, does not mean we cannot stop for a minute and look at the big picture. In fact, if one does not stop to see the big picture, the distant mountain which reflects the one which he is climbing, one would become frustrated by the difficulty of the climb and would be tempted to give up.
One might also be tempted to give up if one hikes up the mountain alone. Without encouragement from others, a person would feel lonely and have no one to share struggles with, or to lean on when he gets tired.
The climb is tiring and difficult, but it is worth it. At the top of the trail, our party sat at a beautiful waterfall, a place of rest. From there, we could see the other mountains. This place of peace could represent the end of life, as a believer slips from this life into the arms of Jesus. He is the one who gives his children energy to climb the mountain and the perseverance to finish the hike. Without the struggles, his people would not realize how sweet rest with him is. This is why he lets them go through struggles and hard times, for it draws them closer to him.
This is the lesson that I learned while hiking in the mountains, to persevere through trouble, for at the end of this troublesome life is perfect rest.