Several years ago we had a yearly tradition of taking our church youth group on a hiking trip to Mount Katahdin. If you've never been to Katahdin, it's the tallest mountain in the state of Maine, and a wonderful place to hike. The views from the top are downright amazing.
We would hike up Pamola Peak (the second-tallest peak on Katahdin) and then cross Knife Edge to get to Baxter Peak (which is the tallest peak). Knife Edge is a trail, approximately a mile long, which runs along a ridge between Pamola and Baxter. You can probably guess what the trail looks like, just from the name of it: Knife Edge. At times you really do feel like you're walking along the edge of a knife; you stand on the ridge and you can look down to your left and see the bottom of the mountain -- then you turn and look down to your right and you also see the bottom of the mountain! It can be a bit intimidating for people who are afraid of heights.
One time when we took this hike, we had a teenager with us who was a seventh grader, and this was her first "serious" hiking experience. When we got to Pamola Peak we gave the teens the option of pressing forward, or turning back the way we came. This girl was determined to go forward.
But once she got out on the ridge, she discovered that, with the wind blowing, and her being tired as she was, she felt like she was going to get blown right off the mountain. So she hiked the entire Knife Edge on her hands and knees.
It was a long hike that day, stopping every couple minutes for her to rest, and get up her courage to press on. The rest of the group pushed on ahead while a couple of the leaders stayed with her. We would stop, sit down on the rocks to look at the views around us (which were, by the way, absolutely stunning and amazing!), and then we would point at a turn in the trail, or an outcropping of rock, and say, "Do you think you can get that far?" And the girl would get a look of grim determination, nod her head, and off we would go again.
As we hiked, I thought to myself, This is what life is like. The trail is rough, narrow, tiresome, and occasionally nerve-wracking. But we don't have to travel the entire trail all at once. Crawling along the trails of life on our hands and knees, we only need worry about what lies directly ahead of us. When the trail gets hard, we only need the grim determination to make it through one day at a time, and when the day is done, God says to us: "Take a rest, and tomorrow we'll tackle the next part of the trail!"
For those who think they have to face the entire trail all at once, take the time to read from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:25-34. And especially verse 34:
Have the faith to travel as far as God gives you to travel in a single day, and let tomorrow -- and God -- worry about tomorrow!