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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Moseley

Hiking Humbly with the Lord

Back in December, I went backpacking for the first time. I went on the Appalachian Trail with my oldest son Elliott to celebrate his 13th birthday.  Over the course of 3 days of pretty intense hiking, we covered over 32 miles, and I learned a few things, particularly about my daily walk with the Lord.

My most notable takeaways from the whole experience are ones you may find to be childishly obvious, but they struck me like a sledgehammer, and I feel compelled to share them.

1. I am Materially Rich.

2. I was Ungrateful and Hard Hearted.

3. I was not walking Humbly with the Lord. 

It is so easy to tally up our material possessions and compare them against someone else who has more stuff and conclude that we're not wealthy. The reality is each one of us is rich in material blessings. 

I did not understand the value, and comfort, and security of having walls, doors, and locks until I was trying to sleep in bear country with the wind whipping around the thin plastic of my tent.

Neither did I appreciate the blessing of food, until walking in the wilderness carrying only enough provisions to last about three days and no practical means to resupply it.

I had never even experienced real thirst, and the distress of not being able to quench it, until Elliott and I both ran out of water during a seven-mile dry stretch, and we just had to keep on trudging, until we finally found a little trickle of water dripping down the steep embankment. When our limbs were so tired and our minds so discouraged, we were able to experience the true blessing of a cool cup of water.  (Mark 9:41)

How wretchedly ungrateful have I been towards my heavenly Father, who has for every single day of my life blessed me with a dwelling that easily keeps out the weather and wild creatures, and with more than enough food and water to satisfy my needs?

In the abundance of these blessings, I have failed to truly grasp how wonderful it is that my Heavenly Father both knows the things my natural body requires, and he has graciously and amply provided for each of them.

You may be thinking- ‘How can this preacher not know these simple things?’

Please don’t misunderstand me; my head has always known that God has provided these things.

Often however, to my great shame, I have only given a lip service form of thanks for His provision of my daily needs. 

Have you ever heard a sullen child mechanically thanking his mother for cooking a meal that wasn’t the child’s favorite? Is that really gratitude expressed from the heart of that child or is the child just checking off a box? 

Are the blessings of a home, food, and water ever passed over with just cursory mention in your prayers?  

When my heart is so hardened and numbed to the Lord’s natural blessings in my own life, how hard hearted, removed, and unfeeling have I been as I read the accounts of human distress and need in the Bible, like in Exodus when the children of Israel ran out of food after the first month in the wilderness and had no natural source to resupply it?  

Now, I can really imagine the panic that must have set in among the fathers and mothers as their little children pleaded and cried for water after they had travelled for three days beyond the shores of the Red Sea but hadn’t found any water. The uplifting relief and sudden joy, as a shout goes up that water had been found, only to experience the downward rush of bitter disappointment and fear, when word comes that the water is not fit to drink.

Yes, they reacted poorly, letting their tongues wag foolishly and sinning against God, but their need of water was real and urgent.

Before in my hardness, I had looked down my long nose at them with contempt thinking something along the lines of – “They ought to know better than to charge God so foolishly since he has carried them safely thus far and has promised to carry them home. Why do they not trust him?”

Indeed, I know better too, but how often do I react poorly when my situation is far less dire… usually my plans are just delayed, or one of my precious conveniences is unavailable.

Has not the LORD safely carried me thus far and promised to bring me all the way home?

Should not the pattern of the daily provision of all my natural needs be a good daily reminder of his tender love and care for me?

How hard-hearted have I become to the poor man or woman on the street corner who may have not eaten at all today?  My struggles with food are generally limited to “What do I WANT to eat?” rather than “WHAT will I eat?”  Let's be brutally honest, this backpacking trip was an opportunity for me to pretend to be homeless, but only after weeks of advanced planning and careful preparation. 

How easily I have written off someone in a depressed and needy state by assuming that they are undeserving of my help.

You know our favorite excuses: 

(i)                       they did this to themselves;

(ii)                    they are pretending to be poor; or

(iii)                  they would take what I give and waste it on drugs or alcohol.

When we take our blessings for granted, we are not walking humbly with our God; instead, we are walking around with an entitled chip on our shoulder.

But if we are truly giving God the glory for those blessings, recognizing that HE is bestowing them upon us even though we don’t deserve them, then we can walk humbly with HIM, and in this frame of mind, it is much easier to share those blessings with others regardless of whether they are “deserving”.

How did our Lord describe the conduct of HIS Sheep?

They were the ones who actively showed mercy to others, particularly to the brethren:

I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:

I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

naked, and ye clothed me:

I was sick, and ye visited me:

I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,

ye have done it unto me. 

(Matthew 25:35-36,40)

I come away from this experience with a humbling sense of gratitude for the multitude of blessings that my Heavenly Father supplies to me every day, which I have largely taken for granted up to now, and I’m convicted that my efforts to serve others have been woefully inadequate.      

May the Lord open our eyes and hearts to truly appreciate his abundant blessings in our lives and to see and respond to the opportunities He gives us to show mercy by sharing those blessings with others as we strive to humbly walk with him.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

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