Just a few days after I announced to the faculty of Dayton Christian School System that I was going to make this hike of the Appalachian Trail, the elementary art teacher stopped me before the school day began and said she had just read a verse of scripture that morning that I really needed to read. It was so relevant to the A.T. The passage was Psalm 18:36. When I got to my office I looked up the passage and immediately identified with the words and I plan to memorize it and reflect on it often as I travel the path.
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights….You (God) broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn” Ps 18:32-33,36.
What great promises are in these verses for a hiker. But before the promises, I was so impressed on the hiker’s total dependency on God. It is not the skill of the hiker or physical conditioning of the individual (although I will prepare the best I can), but it is the power, the providence, and the provision of God that will lead to success. God is the One that will arm with strength (at 64 years old, I will need some supernatural enabling). It is God who will make my way perfect (notice it does not say “easy” or “flat” or “without rain” or “comfortable” – but “perfect” – exactly what I need). It is the Creator that will give me deer’s feet (I love watching the deer glide through the woods with stealth-like jumps and an agility that makes me marvel). It is the Almighty One that enables me to stand on the heights (there are many mountains to climb and overlooks to see – I plan to shout this verse in praise, standing atop Mount Washington). And it is my heavenly Father that broadens the path and protects my ankles from twisting (many a strong, healthy, young hiker has ended his thru-hike with an ankle injury – I hope to thank God with this verse at the end of every day on the trail).