If Dan had asked me beforehand, “Do you want to hike 5.8 miles in the rain … or would you rather stay here and read while I make a Chai latte for you?” guess what I would have chosen.
Which is why I’m glad I didn’t know in advance how wet and steep and muddy the trail would be in places. Turns out, I loved this challenging and not-so-comfortable experience.
We recently hiked with my son and daughter-in-law in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque—the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System—and for the almost-three-mile uphill trek, Dan and I tried to keep up with Jeremy & Denise (who, by the way, run marathons and half-marathons).
When we reached the top, we were in the clouds. On a clear day, views of the Atlantic Ocean are to the north, and the Caribbean Sea lies south/southwest. But the scenery that day was limited to greenery set into gray fog.
On the way down the trail, there was some slipping and sliding and black mud left its mark on my leg, shorts, and jacket.
A few thoughts about choices
There are physical and mental health benefits from choosing to try something new, from choosing to get outdoors and incorporate some movement, and from hanging with the people we love.
This hike was about that. But it was something more.
It was about the things we haven’t yet experienced or the outcomes we can’t yet see—and still choosing to round that blind corner.
I’m comfortable with what I know, while the ‘not knowing’ can be unpleasant and awkward.
Which reminds me of our choice to trust God. Or not.
In her book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver writes about the first woman, Eve, and her meeting with the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).
The serpent starts the conversation with a question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Did God really say that?
Eve told the serpent that they could eat fruit from any of the trees, just not the one planted in the middle of the garden. Or they would die.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”Genesis 3:4-5
Author Joanna Weaver writes:
What is it about us women that creates such a desperate need to always know, to always understand? We want an itinerary for our life, and when God doesn’t immediately produce one, we set out to write our own.Joanna Weaver
I’m that woman. I want to know what to expect. I want to understand what’s going on. And why.
Back to Joanna Weaver:
“I need to know,” we tell ourselves.
“No,” God answers softly, “you need to trust.”joanna weaver
The ‘not knowing’ but sitting still and waiting until doors open—that amounts to trust. Choosing to follow where God leads even when we don’t know what’s around the corner—that’s trust.
Yes, if I’d been given the choice before the uphill, muddy hike, I probably would’ve chosen the comfort instead of the adventure. And I would’ve missed out on the accomplishment, and the camaraderie, and creating a fun memory.
As much as I enjoy the comfort of our couch with stacks of books and writing projects and mugs of tea, I want to trust God’s love. I want to never question him when it comes to the uncomfortable hard seasons, or the heartbreak, or any steep, muddy trails he may ask me to navigate.
Dan and I love visiting Puerto Rico because my son and daughter-in-law live there. During their winter season—December through March—temps are in the mid-80s. The Spanish culture is intriguing and there’s so much beauty on the island—see for yourself.