I recently traveled to a wedding and decided to spend the following day exploring some trails nearby.
I’d spent hours in this same region hiking over the years, but not on my own. And since I usually travel with people who have a particular trail or timespan in mind, I decided to leave this trip open-ended. I hopped onto the parkway and headed south to the highest point of elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
That seemed like a good place to start.
If you’ve ever driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can probably imagine the scenery. Motorcyclists clustered at overlook points, picnics happening in random patches of grass, and ridges of blue mountains growing in depth and shade with every winding turn. It’s worth the drive itself.
As I made it toward the highest point, I noticed a sign pointing down a gravel road to some trail entry points. I passed an older couple picking blackberries and a couple students setting up easels, presumably trying to capture those mystic shades of blue. And after a mile or so, I noticed a couple cars parked along the edge of a trailhead, so I stopped, got out and started walking.
The trail was quiet at first.
I didn’t pass a single soul on either end for the first mile in. The path seemed overgrown and poorly maintained, at times not much of a path at all. But the charm of its wildflowers and the sound of a nearby stream made me want to keep going.
Eventually I came up behind a group of weary hikers. One of the men turned around and yelled back “Do you have any idea where this thing ends up?”
I yelled back, “Nope! But I bet we’ll get some good views along the way.”
We all decided to keep going.
And as we came up on the first stunning overlook of many, I realized my response had not only ended up being true of this trail but of my own story and maybe yours as well.
Every day we tread into unknown territory hoping to catch a glimpse of what’s to come.
We spend tireless hours trying to ensure our success or predict how our stories will unfold, and while ambitions indeed help us move forward, we cannot control what we will encounter. We don’t always know what will or won’t happen for us.
But I think if we keep moving forward in hope and letting God surprise us along the way, this whole messy-long-beautiful-hike ends up being worth it.
We will find good views along the way.
But we’re at risk of missing them if all we’re worried about is keeping our eyes down and getting to the top. Trust me—I’ve probably tripped on rocks and roots roughly 27,456 times hiking. It hurts, both my pride and my ankles, but I’m glad it’s never kept me from enjoying the view.
We have to be willing to keep moving forward even if we don’t know what the summit looks like. And if we make the most of the good we find along the way and trust that nothing done with God is a waste, we might find the path was truly the best part.
May you bravely walk forward and keep yours eyes open for any breaks in the trees this week—in your work, in your relationships and in any doubts you’re experiencing.