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Thursday, May 25, 2023
Yesterday we enjoyed this scenic overlook along the Appalachian Trail in Berks County, PA before we sat down on the rocks and ate our lunch before heading to the next company in Palmyra where we serve as chaplains.
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"Grace Will Lead Us Home"
Message summary: The Appalachian Trail hike is similar to our Christian journey; we have a starting point and the goal of a finish line. Along the way we will face many dangers, toils and snares, but grace will lead us home.
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"Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith, 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God'" (Acts 14:22).
Yesterday we hiked on a portion of the Appalachian Trail near Bethel, Pennsylvania not far from the location where we made our first chaplain visit yesterday. Well, actually "hike" is an overstatement.
We actually only walked from the parking area along PA Rt. 501 several hundred very rocky yards (among serious Appalachian Trail hikers the Pennsylvania portion has the nickname Rocksylvania) to the overlook as seen in our lead photo where we ate lunch together. That's about enough of that type of hiking for us, especially since we still had chaplain and hospital visits to make.
We had also been warned about rattlesnakes on the rock overlook so it didn't help any for Brooksyne to be startled by a snake at the very beginning of the trail. But it wasn't a rattlesnake which she noted as she took a careful look at the shape of the snake's head! (Stephen's note: It also didn't have a rattle at the end.)
As we were eating our lunch a thru hiker passed by and we had a brief conversation. He told us he had started at the southern terminus of the trail in Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 30th and is headed to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the northern terminus.
He was at the 1,190 mile mark of the 2,200 mile trail so he's over halfway to his goal. He sleeps along the trail at night either on the ground or in shelters. Every 3 or 4 days he needs to find a store near the trail for provisions.
He has a definite goal in mind (reaching Mount Katahdin and completing the entire trail) and based upon our conversation yesterday he will make it. It sure appears from the photo he is in very good physical condition.
The Appalachian Trail (also known as the ďA.T.Ē) has more than 3 million people visit every year. Most, like us, walk only a short portion. But we do like to inform people we walk the entire width.
Over 3,000 people attempt to ďthru-hikeĒ the entire footpath in a single year. The most arduous is what the man in our photo is doing, all at once. The dropout rate is some 80%. Others do it all but in sections taking breaks between.
The Appalachian Trail hike is similar to our Christian journey, we have a starting point and the goal of a finish line. Along the way we will face many dangers, toils and snares, but grace will lead us home.
Today's Scripture portion is a tiny condensation of the message that Paul and Barnabas were giving to the young believers in Asia Minor during their first missionary journey. In seeking to strengthen the disciples and encourage them to remain true to the faith their message is summed up in this twelve-word phrase. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". That sure isn't a message we want to hear, is it? I doubt if many choose this verse as their life verse or have even memorized it. But it was true then and its message still holds true for us today.
Some of you are facing tremendous obstacles with tightly shut doors. You just don't know how, when, or even if it will work out. We had such a conversation yesterday with an individual in that very situation and we are praying for him and his wife as they seek God's leading.
Hold on my friend, keep your faith, and stay true to the Lord. You will have a glorious testimony in God's due time. Grace will lead us home!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Daily prayer: Father, I want Your way to be my way, as I journey here below. For there is no other highway that a child of God should go. Though the road be steep and rough, if You lead me it's enough, for I want Your way to be my way everyday. Your grace has brought me safe thus far, and Your grace will lead me to my eternal home, Praise the Lord! Amen.
Prayer adapted from hymns, "I Want God's Way" and "Amazing Grace"
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Firm Foundation (He Wonít)" Click to listen on YouTube Cody Carnes
Iíve still got joy in chaos
Iíve got peace that makes no sense
I wonít be going under
Iím not held by my own strength
ĎCause Iíve built my life on Jesus
Heís never let me down
Heís faithful in every season
So why would He fail now
He wonít, He wonít
He wonít fail
He wonít fail
I took a selfie of Stephen and me as we sat down to have our lunch. Only then did I realize, upon getting out of the car, he had unknowingly slipped on my sunglasses accessorized with rhinestones. We had quite a laugh as we wondered what the hiker thought of his sunglasses as he talked to him along the trail!
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