Several years ago, I had the opportunity to climb one of the best peaks in Colorado with a few friends. If you know me well, you have probably endured my retelling of the infamous hiking boot fiasco that befell me on this wilderness adventure. Still, I think it’s a story worth repeating once more for the blog world.
As we stood in the parking lot before making our ascent to the grand peak, I contemplated which shoes to wear. This wasn’t a fashion dilemma. I was vacillating between a pair of high top boots or my more comfortable low-top hiking shoes. Knowing that we might be facing some snow at the summit, I regrettably chose the boots. Never mind that I had purchased them in college, which in my head was not that long ago.
We were about three miles into our nearly fourteen-mile journey when my friend, Brian asked if I had a blowout. Considering that we were in high altitude and he was behind me on the trail, I misinterpreted his question and assured him that I had most certainly not experienced a blowout. He laughed and then pointed to the sole of a shoe lying on the trail behind me.
Having not felt the sole detach from my boot, I assumed it wasn’t mine and we continued forward. We hiked no more than a few feet before my other boot began to fall apart. It was then that I realized the sole on the trail was indeed mine, and I was about to lose the other one. Remarkably, I couldn’t feel the difference without the soles on my shoes, so I made the hasty decision to continue the ascent.
If you haven’t ever climbed a “fourteener”, let me assure you that placing one’s self in the middle of the wilderness without functional footwear is an unwise choice. This holds especially true in an environment where weather can wreak havoc on your safety and well-being. Regardless, I was determined to reach the summit with my friends. After all, we had risen in the very early morning and driven several hours for our adventure. I wasn’t about to miss out on the prize.
I marched onward for another mile or so until my toes began peeking out the end of my boots. I realized then that I was in trouble. I was miles away from civilization on a rugged and rocky trail with no shoes. My friends and I began rummaging through our backpacks for anything that might hold my boots together. We had nothing. We were completely unprepared.
As we were sitting on the trail debating what to do, a fellow hiker approached us on her descent. She offered an Ace bandage, which we tore and used to tie around my shoes. That worked for a while until the trail took its toll and my boots fell apart again. At just that time, we stumbled upon a group of geology students who were doing some sort of mountain project. Fortunately, one of the students offered us some duct tape, which we used to wrap around the bandage.
The duct tape held for a mile or so and then fell apart. It was then that we passed another group of hikers who offered more duct tape. We secured my shoes again and continued our hike. On and on this went throughout the entirety of our climb. Each time my shoes fell apart, we were met by someone who happened to be equipped with exactly what we needed to get a little further along in our journey.
Eventually, we summited and then made our descent. It wasn’t comfortable. Snow and sediment from the trail crept into my tattered boots and nestled under my weary feet throughout much of our hike. Furthermore, layers of duct tape, bandages, and medical tape created a less than ideal platform on which to walk. Still, we made it. The views from the peak were indescribable, and the satisfaction of reaching our goal was worth the arduous climb.
I have thought back to that adventure many times over the past few years. Isn’t it so much like our faith journey? The Lord gives us what we need exactly when we need it. I sure would have preferred to stumble upon a new pair of hiking boots as I was desperately straining up the mountain, but that’s not usually how God works. He gives us just enough duct tape to stimulate our dependence on Him. It may come as a word of encouragement, an unexpected financial bonus, an answered prayer, a phone call from a friend, a verse of Scripture, an opportunity to serve, or anything else that might sustain us for a few more miles down the trail.
We might be uncomfortable at times. Rocks and sediment might creep in and make our climb more painful. But, someday we’ll summit. Someday, we’ll reach the indescribable, unfathomable peak and realize that the climb was so worth the prize. In the meantime, we walk a journey of faith along a grueling trail with tattered, imperfect shoes…trusting Him to provide just one more piece of duct tape.