As a teenager I backpacked two portions of the wilderness beaches along the Pacific Ocean. The beaches were part of the Olympic National Park in Washington state and were the only trails open during the winter season (the high mountain passes were snow-covered).
I use the word “trail” loosely, because most of the route was the beach itself. Hikers simply kept the ocean on their right or left, depending on whether they were going north or south. Campsites could be found on the beach itself or inside the neighboring forest. There were no roads or towns, just forest, ocean and beach.
However beach hiking had its tricky sections. Steep, rocky headlands would jut out into the ocean. Theses headland had little or no beach so a hiker had a choice. Wait for low tide and race around the headland or find a trail that led up and over the headland to the open beach beyond. I carried a tide table with me when I hiked, so I could know when the low tide would be and plan accordingly. If I arrived at a headland too early or too late, I had to wait or try to find the bypass trail. (Sort of like trying to find a portage trail in the BWCA.)
I often think our spiritual walk with Jesus is like hiking on the beach. There can be long sections were the path is very clear and beautiful, yet wild at the same time. We simply need to remember to keep the ocean (Jesus) on our left or right. But then we come to some rocky headland, some struggle or challenge, that blocks the path. We learn to either stop and look at the tide table, (a sort of prayer time) waiting for the tide to recede. Or we take our chances in finding the wilderness trail (never easy) that leads up and over. We may even loses sight of the ocean (Jesus), for a time. Yet the sound of crashing waves and smell of salt air reminds us that Jesus is close by.
What images of walking with Jesus do you carry in your life?