The Longest Hike

My friend Missy is one of those kinds of people that you don’t ever forget. One afternoon over the Christmas holiday, I received a voicemail from her. I have not heard from Missy since I moved out of North Carolina. She is smart and sincere, beautiful and deeply honest.  She mothers two handsome boys and is a gracious and courageous wife to her husband.  For a brief period we were single at the same time, and it was always a comfort to be able to talk to someone who ached as I did for the Lord to send Mr. Right along.  Listening to her voice on the message she started reminiscing about a trip we took together years before and the sound of her laughter had me leaning against the kitchen counter laughing myself at the memory!  God used it days later to show me some important things about up hill climbs.  

Missy is the typical thin athletic, go-getter who may or may not still eat the same things, the same way, at the same time, in the same place, she did 20 years ago!  Basically, she is predictable!  I learned this the hard way years ago when I invited her on a ministry trip to Hawaii with me.  We scheduled a few extra vacation days in between my conferences and Missy, being the planner, had some scheduled activities to get accomplished while we were there.  

Missy loves hiking, and she had mapped out a hike for us on some trail in some park in Kauai that was supposed to be “the most amazing hike ever.”  It was about two miles, she had said, and she would carry the back pack with our snacks and drinks in them.  We parked the rental car and set off for this amazing hike.  An hour into the hike I started realizing that this was not turning out to be a low-key two-mile hike!  The trails were thin and ragged.  I was sweating hard…that is never a good sign.  I slowly turned into the nagging child in a back seat, repetitive in asking, “Are we there yet?” I started every ten minutes asking her that question because after all, she was the hiking expert!  Two hours later, still trudging along cliff walls, I could feel my Christianity leaving my body and the evil sweaty-hateful girl emerging.  It was around that time that I lost my footing (somewhere 100 paces behind Missy’s chipper whistling-dixy pace) and slid into a mud hole.  Oh, did I forget to mention it had started raining?  Yeah, well the rain had loosened the trail and created puddles of muck along the way!  Snow White (AKA, Missy) heard my sliding yelp and stopped singing to the animals long enough to find me head first in the mud!  I begged to go back but she insisted we were almost there and said it would be a beautiful site to make it to the end and to sit by the ocean.  As a chubby mud-soaked girl looking up at the skinny chick with her stupid name brand hiking shorts and matching shoes I had thoughts to throw her off the cliff!  Composing myself and wiping the mud off my face I sucked it up and limped the remaining way down the trail.  

Finally, we were at the breathtaking beach!  We sat down and I waited for my snacks and drinks to be handed to me from the pack on Missy’s back.  I was starving!  Missy pulled out two bottles of water and two apples and handed me one of each!  I remember looking at her in unbelief.  That’s it?  I have just hiked 4-bleeping hours on Mount Kill-Me and look like I mud wrestled with an alligator, and she did not have the decency to make sandwiches and bring chips and for God sake, a diet soda?  What??? 

The frustration in me boiled over and I think I went off on a conniption about water and apples and what kind of a person does that!  Reality hit and now it’s no longer about water and apples but the hike back.  All I recall after that, is shouting at people coming back on the trail to turn around unless they wanted a hellish experience.  Missy laughing all the way.  

Later, after showers and a hot dinner we laughed until we cried at how funny the whole thing was.  I had forgotten that hike until two weeks ago and Missy’s voice was on the phone remembering it while remembering me.  I needed that hike that day to cause me to remember what I had not thought too, until God reminded me.  You see I wasn’t prepared mentally for that hike that day.  I had not predicted what I would suffer in the hike.  Funny thing is, I became so wrapped up in the physical cost of the hike that I can’t really remember the view. We were on the most exquisite trails chiseled along the Kauai mountainside overlooking water so blue it didn’t seem real.  I had become so frustrated by the difficult climb that I could not enjoy the journey and had missed the view.  Life is like this sometimes for us.  We are so consumed with what God isn’t or hasn’t done, that we miss the view to where we are going.  I am pondering this today and hearing God say not to miss the view during the next climb.

2014 is over but we start a new trail.  I am praying that this climb in 2015 has me taking time to enjoy the view.  Maybe, I’ll see my friend Missy this year and we can laugh again about long hikes, sliding trails, mud holes and yes, 2 bottles of water and a couple of apples.  

-Rita Springer