“I Have Decided…To Walk Forever…”

I’ve been thinking about Mike B. almost daily as he continues on his attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Marsha reports that he has but 600 more miles, or about 25 percent more of the trail in front of him. This is one LONG piece of real estate!

Some of us who are cheering him on might begin to think that he’s got this thing licked. My guess is that the longer he is on the trail, the more grit is necessary to continue pressing on.

In honor of Mike’s hike, I picked up and recently read Bill Bryson’s wonderfully funny and insightful A Walk in the Woods. There is much here that will give us average people insight into just how difficult and yet transcendent is this thing Mike is doing. (I heartily recommend the book. However, Mr. Bryson makes occasional use of words that most of us do not use in polite company. Don’t be surprised by that.)

A sobering reminder is given regarding where Mike will soon be:

“…when the northbound hiker leaves Vermont he has completed 80 percent of the miles but just 50 of the effort. The New Hampshire portion alone, running 162 miles through the White Mountains, has 35 peaks higher than 3000 feet. New Hampshire is hard.” (page 221)

He needs our continued prayers and cheering!

Heck… I need cheering. We all need cheering, come to think about it. When I turned forty, given a liberal estimate of an average lifespan, I had completed 50 percent of my “miles”. But looking back over the past ten years or so, it’s pretty clear that by forty, I think I’d only completed 20% of the effort.

Mike’s hike is a picture of perseverance in our Christian life and calling. We do not know how much effort yet lies ahead, but we need the prayers – and cheers – of others to keep us from turning back.

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