I was not prepared for this hike.
I was traveling with a college group in New Zealand, and this was our first outing that involved significant physical activity. To call it strenuous would be an understatement. Our trek was up a nearly vertical pathway that offered no relief. Within five minutes I was huffing, puffing, and telling one of my friends that she’d have to go on without me because I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t going to make it to the top. But she encouraged me to go farther, and we stopped several times, which helped a little. Another friend grabbed my hand and hiked alongside me. I still felt utterly useless and slow and was afraid of holding everyone back and being judged. But it wasn’t long before I realized that this negative attitude really wasn’t working for me, so I decided to pray as we continued hiking.
For me, prayer is about so much more than finding a way to be positive. As a Christian Scientist, I’ve learned that prayer can help us understand more about God and our relation to Him as His expression—the expression of good. It also enables us to let God change our whole perception of things. This approach is what brings us freedom from limitations.
I was afraid of holding everyone back and being judged.
As I prayed, the thought came that instead of looking up at how much farther we needed to hike to get to the top, I could take the trek one step at a time, and keep my attention on God as I did so. I spent the next few minutes praising God as I walked. I knew that God, being infinite, could never be hindered by anything, and since I am God’s expression, neither could I. Instead of thinking of myself as separate from God and struggling, I could lean on God as the unlimited source of my strength and ability. As I continued to hike, I sang a Bible verse to myself: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
I was with a group of Christian Scientists, and I suddenly realized that everyone around me was discussing ideas from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy as we walked. It was amazing, and I could feel the encouragement and love from every single person in my group. After several minutes of this, it dawned on me that I hadn’t needed to take a break for water or to catch my breath in a while, and that all the fear surrounding what I felt I could or couldn’t do was gone. It wasn’t that I was hitting my stride as a hiker; I actually felt a wave of love propelling me forward.
I felt a wave of love propelling me forward.
A couple of people in my group took my backpack and distributed the weight between themselves, and that was a literal lifting of weight off of me. I felt so much freedom, and it was a reminder of the actual presence of God, Love, right there on that mountain.
Amazingly, my group even caught up to the group that had left over an hour before we had, and then everyone took some quiet time to pray individually for a bit as we hiked. I cried tears of joy as I recognized what a huge breakthrough this hike had been for me; I was also deeply grateful for the immense love that I’d felt from my group and from God—in a way I’d never felt it before. I’d thought I wasn’t physically prepared for this hike. But in the end, what I really wasn’t prepared for was the powerful presence of Love that supported me all the way to the top.