This trip was not going as planned. My dad, two of my younger sisters, and I were on the Appalachian Trail for a week of backpacking. The problem? Even though we knew which trail to take, we no longer had a map. The maps we’d downloaded onto our phones didn’t work since we were out of range. So we had no way of knowing if we were on track to make our daily mileage goals. Then, as we set out it started to rain.
My sisters and I began to worry about setting up camp. Instead of joining in, my dad stayed 100 percent positive. He told us, “It will be fun to see how God works this out. I’m sure that we will always be provided for.” That might sound a little strange since we were alone in the wilderness. But as Christian Scientists, we’ve learned that God is Love and is everywhere, so we’ll always be taken care of.
My dad’s trust in God helped us switch to a more positive, spiritual perspective. Instead of being annoyed about the rain, we could see the beauty and calm that rain could bring, and recognize that God’s presence was still with us.
Dad began to sing hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal that related to rain, and my sisters and I joined in. We sang Hymn 148, which goes like this:
In heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My Father has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.
(Anna L. Waring)
This hymn related perfectly to our trip, and I felt confident that God’s guidance, protection, and provision would be with us the whole way.
The rain continued for the rest of the afternoon, but I was no longer worried about it. As we walked, we also talked about how nature and the people we shared the trail with reflected qualities of God such as kindness, strength, beauty, and peace. Seeing these qualities all around me helped me feel so close to God, and I was calm and reassured, knowing that God was with us.
We soon came to the final mountain of the day, and when we reached the top, the rain stopped! The clouds parted, and we had the most fantastic view of the mountains that seemed to go on forever. I was so grateful for this, because it was proof to me that infinite God was present, showing us His beauty and power.
We saw more proof of God’s care after setting up camp. We were making dinner when we realized we had no utensils and were running low on water. There wasn’t a nearby source of water to filter, and it was getting dark. We trusted the idea we had been praying with earlier in the day: that God never stops providing for us. When we asked the people next to us if we could borrow some utensils, they were more than happy to share, even saying we could keep them since it was their last day. We were so grateful. They didn’t even know about our low water supply, but they also offered us some clean, filtered water they weren’t using. We gladly said “Yes!” and “Thank you!” This spontaneous support from strangers had the biggest impact on me, because it was totally unanticipated and completely met our needs. So I knew divine Love had to be behind it.
Throughout the rest of the trip, even though we dealt with more rain and obstacles, we still felt God’s presence every step of the way. We were able to follow the trail easily, and found spots to camp each night, including one beautiful overlook toward the top of a mountain. We reached our destination after three days on the trail—more quickly than we had anticipated—and even on the harder days we found our “bright skies.” I’m so grateful for this trip and the inspiration I found along the way.
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