Yesterday Norma Jean and I spent the day driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. The leaves appear to be at their peak and it is gorgeous. But to break up the drive we stopped at Mount Mitchell and walked to the top. It’s the highest peak East of the Mississippi.
We also stopped at Linville Falls and hiked from the Ranger station to the Falls. The trail was rocky. Uneven. And overgrown with roots. There were places where the trail was slippery. Rugged. And steep. In fact, it was uphill…both ways!
Some people stayed at the Ranger station and let others take the hike. Others quit before they got to the Falls. And a few got to the last section, but stopped and sat on a bench while others in their group went to the Falls.
It reminded me of these actual responses from comment cards given to the staff at Bridger Wilderness Area National Forest in Wyoming.
◆Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
◆Trails need to be wider so people can walk holding hands
◆Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
◆Please pave the trails.
◆Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
◆The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
◆Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
◆A MacDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.
◆Too many rocks in the mountains.
Both these comments and our experience reminded me that some people are unwilling to make the sacrifice to enjoy the reward. People want the view without the work. They seek the mountain peak without the climb. They want to enjoy the scenery without expending the effort and the energy. And they don’t understand what it means to stay in the wilderness!
Sadder yet are those who bring those kind of expectations into the church. Some folks don’t understand what it means to follow Jesus. They are wanting “Christianity at my convenience.” It is called “Faith lite.” Their theme song is, “take my life and let me be.” No where did Jesus ever say that following him would be comfortable or convenient.
More than any other term to describe a Christian, the Bible uses the word Disciple. Discipleship is a process. It takes time. Requires effort. Demands commitment. There are Lessons to be learned. A cross to bear. Fruit to produce. It’s not always easy.
Forget walking a paved trail. With no rocks in the road. And no hills to climb. The Christian walk is filled with challenges. Temptations. And trials. However, when we get to the end of the trail, it will be worth it. The view will be grand. Breath-taking. And eternal!
Ken Weliever, The Preacherman