turnA Turn in the Trail

The trail twists and makes another turn, I lift my eyes, hoping to see the narrow, wooden building perched on the edge of a cliff. Three-mile Resthouse seems further away than the sign had promised when I left Indian Garden.

I leaned on my hiking poles, hoping to ease the load on my legs by doing some of the work with my arms. When the building came into view, I heaved a sigh of relief and a drop of water hit my cheek. Who would have thought I’d get emotional over seeing an outhouse?

“Just three more miles until I reach the top. I can do this,” I assured myself. For the last month I’d worked overtime day after day to complete our school’s accreditation report. I managed to turn the report in 12 minutes early on Friday. Hiking the Grand Canyon with a group of kids seemed like a lovely release from all that stress.

Many times, whilst sitting in committee meetings and synthesizing everyone’s opinion into a coherent document, I would remind myself that if I could hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the river and back again in one day, I could endure working on the report for just one more hour.

Out of my four Grand Canyon rim-to-river-to-rim adventures, this had turned out to be the most difficult. In a strange turn of events, by the time I reached Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, I had started to tell myself that if I could finish the accreditation report on time, I could finish this hike.

The gooseberries along the Bright Angel Trail had bloomed, and thousands of bees hummed encouragement as I shuffled up the trail. The bountiful blossoms blotted out the smells of sun-baked mule exhaust (most of the time). Nevertheless, every step seemed like a burden.

Encouraging Words Along the Way

Life is hard. but we can choose to let our burdens weigh us down, or learn to turn them into blessings. #burden #blessing #hope #GrandCanyon #extremehikingBy this time, I had passed, and been passed by the same hikers over and over again. We started exchanging grimaces of commiseration. By the third time I passed the same group of people, we called out encouragement to each other. “You can do it!” I said with a grin.

“Looking good,” they answered back (a blatant lie, I looked like a wrinkly overripe tomato with scary hair). My feet felt lighter, though, as I kept pushing myself onward.

When the Kolb Studios building came into view, I knew I really would make it. One more turn, a tunnel, a few switchbacks, and I would arrive. Sixteen and a half of the toughest miles I’ve ever hiked would turn into a memory.

But the encouragement from strangers would remind me of my greater purpose. All too often I get caught up in my own little world of problems and perplexities and I forget that God wants me to encourage others. Friends, family, strangers, it doesn’t matter. Paul tells us to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In my hustle and bustle and competitiveness, I forget that others need encouraging. God must smile when I get myself into situations where he can point out lessons like this to me. Sure, I could have finished the hike without encouragement. But encouragement sure made a difference! It turned my burden into a blessing.

God asks us to encourage each other and build each other up. In doing so, we lighten our own burdens. #hope #encouragement Click To Tweet

So, I’ll take my turn at encouraging you. Life is hard, but our Father’s arms are soft. The way might seem dark, but Jesus is our light. Whatever burdens you right now, know that help is a prayer away—and if you can’t come up with the words, others will pray for you (including me, just let me know).