I had about 18 days to prepare for an Appalachian Trail section hike in 2016. Everything on the outside of my body appeared like this was a bad idea. I had not exercised much in the winter or spring that year. Meanwhile, everything on the inside of my body screamed that this was not only a good idea but also the only idea. I had to go.
Before departing the word “surrender” rolled around in my head and got my attention in multiple songs. Surrender became my trail name and my goal. I thought about the word a lot as our four-women team hiked. The below picture is part of the trail. It was rocky and tough terrain. This path represents how my life felt at the time. Our family was amid big changes and stress. I grumbled to myself that the sharp and wobbly rocks were fitting as a metaphor for that year.
I wrestled and searched my heart for ways to surrender to God’s will in my life. I read that the word surrender can be a noun meaning the action of yielding or a verb meaning to cease resistance. I knew I absolutely needed to submit both as a thing and a process. My mind rolled around and through the definition as I prayed to God for answers.
And this is a picture of a portion of the hike where I felt solidly surrendered. Whatever You want, God. Whatever You want. Show me. Please. Mostly what I heard back from our Higher Power was simply to take the next step, then the next, and repeat. In the walking, I felt peace. Hot, sweaty peace. I would keep walking even if it meant I had to crawl eventually.
Since returning from the trip I’ve continued to take next steps. One of the steps was to write down the adventure of that week. The trip provided so much humor and gut-wrenching self-reflection that I suspect others may glean something for their own journey while reading about it.
I’m still learning about the word surrender. In 2018 the word has led me to a specific prayer.
Lead me. I trust You to lead the way.
And, I promise to do the work You ask of me.
The manuscript and book proposal about the trip is written and I’m seeking representation to take even more steps. We’ll see what happens. In the waiting, I appreciate the following verses:
1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…
And then the rest of that passage I struggle with:
2 Corinthians 12:9b-11 (NIV)
…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Boast, really? Ugh.
The NLV says “take pleasure in my weakness”.
The KJV says “glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
My personality teeter totters on the extrovert and introvert line. This week a participant at a workshop I facilitated commented at the end, “Wow. I have thought for two years you are super quiet, but you’re really not.” I would say I try not to waste words. [sidebar: That was a great event by the way. I will post the workshop guide in a different work blog soon.]
I have a hard time blogging sometimes because it feels “showy”. I have matured enough now to know that I need to do what God has placed on my heart through skill, talent and calling. I may not sign up to boast per se, but I can laugh at myself and give glory to God, allowing His power to work through my story in whatever way He leads.
I anticipate that you will hear more from me about the word surrender and the trip as the days ahead unfold.
God bless you,