I am not a hiker. And although I appreciate the beauty of green and flowering things from behind the glass of a window, I’m not even really that fond of being outdoors. So I was surprised to discover that the image that came to me year after year as an analogy to describe my life, was a mountain. Complete with hiking trails.
The first time this mountain/hiking imagery graced my life I was a college senior asking what I should do after graduation. More specifically, I was asking if I should intern with the campus ministry that I was part of in college. As I asked, this picture unfolded: it was me walking up a trail, starting at the base of the mountain where the incline was gradual, continuing to more steep sections, and occasionally stopping to enjoy the view and to survey how far I’d come. There was a sense of satisfaction that the hard work was well worth the vista point. And there was a deeper sense of God’s presence and his promise that he would always be with me, in the easy aspects of ministry and in the difficult ones, on the days that felt like accomplishments and the days that felt like failures, and that his hand would reach out to help me up the steeper parts of the climb.
Naturally with a promise like that, I said yes to the internship. And it was difficult, and it was beautiful, and God was with me.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d asked a different question. Instead of “Should I do this specific thing or not?” maybe I could have asked more of an open-ended question. Like “What should I do after I graduate?” But even if I had, knowing what I know now, I think the answer would have come in the form of another question: “What do you want to do?” And I think at that point in my life, I really did want to do the internship. To stay in my cozy, familiar community before being thrown out into the “real world” and to gain some ministry experience along the way.
And in retrospect, I’m really happy I did it. It led to other paths and forks in the road that I never would have had the opportunity to take otherwise. So whether it was God or just my own internal voice telling me to go ahead, I’m glad I took the chance.