About two miles into our hike I called ahead to my friend Heidi, “Wow, it’s muggy out here! I’m sweating like crazy.” I was huffing and puffing along behind her and wondering if she intended to go the rest of the 9.6 miles at this pace.
“Me too,” she shouted back, but she didn’t seem to be breathing as hard as I was, and I didn’t see any sweat trickling down the back of her neck. A few minutes later, in her all too clever style, she yelled over her shoulder, “How are you doing ‘Sweaty’ Pie?”
“Absolutely great!” I hollered back.
Now why did I say that? I asked myself. I feel all wobbly like my legs are going to give out. Man she’s in great shape.
I spent the next few minutes wondering if I was going to be able to finish the hike and wishing I could take a little break. The truth was that I didn’t want to admit I was having trouble keeping up. Finally, I swallowed my pride. “Heidi. I need to rest for a minute.”
“Alright, no problem,” she said. She stood there swatting mosquitoes and chatting away at me while I leaned against a tree and dug in my pack for some trail mix.
The rest refreshed me, and I felt strong for the rest of the hike, and what a great hike it was. We crossed streams and waterfalls. At one point we gazed at a lake far below us. Then we dropped steeply into a basin to arrive at another lake. We had reached our destination.
After a few minutes of admiring the beautiful scenery, we turned and headed for home. By now we were hiking in a steady rain, and with soaked jeans and barely enough time to reach the car before dusk, I was like a beach horse that has reached the turn around point. I was headed for home at a trot.
“Good grief, girl, I must have been walking awfully slowly for you.”
I turned and saw that Heidi had fallen several paces behind me. I assured her that she had not walked too slowly for me, and I checked my speed. A couple hours later we arrived safely back at the car.
We had the best time that day. We laughed, talked, took pictures, and patched up blistered feet. We made memories that will last a lifetime. I thought about Heidi slowing down and waiting for me and then later me slowing down a bit for her. I knew if I had waited to admit that I needed a rest, I would never have been able to finish our hike. Silly me, the hike wasn’t a competition but something we’d wanted to do together.
I couldn’t help but parallel our trek in the mountains to the daily Christian walk. The Bible is full of references about loving the brethren, bearing one another’s burdens, and coming alongside of someone who needs help. Sometimes, we will be the ones who need to step in and lend assistance and encouragement. Sometimes, we will be the ones who need the help, but too often we let our pride stand in the way of asking for it. We are treating our spiritual lives like a competition. We don’t want to admit that our lives aren’t perfect, or maybe we’re afraid of a judging attitude from other Christians.
I Peter 1:22b says, “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
If we love each other with a pure heart, the way God meant for us to love, we will not treat the Christian walk like a competition – each person trying to outdo the other. If we love God’s way, pride and fear will have no place in our pure hearts and can no longer stand in the way of us holding each other up.