When I was younger I used to do a lot of hiking, but somehow over the years I got out of the habit. During the past 6 months however, I have renewed my interest and have been taking a 5 to 10-mile hike every week. As a result, I have lost about 20 pounds.
To encourage me, my wife bought me a pair of trekking poles as a Christmas gift. When I was younger, I thought that they were silly and more of a fashion statement than of any use. But since I’ve begun using them, I have noticed three benefits.
First and foremost, they are very helpful when I am descending a steep incline. When I am climbing up I can lean forward and keep my center of gravity closer to the mountain, but coming down I have to remain erect or even lean back a little which makes my footing precarious. The trekking poles help me to maintain my balance and make me feel more secure.
Second, they also help me to scramble up a steep slope or cross uneven terrain. They allow me to rely, not only on the strength of my legs, but also on the strength of my arms. They make my footing more secure.
Finally, they help me when I stumble over a root or a rock in the trail. Instead of falling on my face or having to do a frantic shuffle to recover my balance, the trekking poles help me to make a quick recovery and keep going.
Yesterday I went for a 7-mile hike and spent a lot of time thinking about the help my poles gave me. As I was hiking down a steep part of the trail the words of Psalm 23:4 came to mind: “Thy rod and thy staff (trekking poles), they comfort me.” It’s good to have a staff you can lean on and God is the staff that I can trust. I wasted a lot of years not using trekking poles, but I don’t want to waste my life, refusing to lean on my Lord.