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Remember where you started and where you're going. Don't worry where everyone else is.

Remember your starting point. Remember where you want to go.

When my friend and I go hiking, we always take a photo of the starting point sign or map. If the phone battery dies it’s a moot point, but since most trails no longer offer paper trail maps, it’s just a way to know:

  • Where you are.

  • Where you are going.

  • How far you have come.

  • How far you have left to go.

  • A reference point if it seems like you’ve been traveling too long.

  • That there is an end somewhere.

  • If you’re walking in circles when you don’t want to be.

My high school senior class motto, which I painted across a large sheet of white paper to hang at the back of the gym stage for graduation, was:

We have come a long way, but not half as far as we will go.

A nice motto, but words that sound nice at graduation day, when you’re 18 and you feel like you know everything and the world is your oyster, can be just words. Some classmates went to prison, some turned to alcohol, some spread their wings and moved far away and held lucrative careers, and others stuck around the same area they grew up in.

It’s difficult to know when you’re halfway since we don’t know when the end is. That’s God’s business. You can take a guess somewhere around mid-life, I suppose. The question isn’t really if you’re halfway, because that’s the thought of a person who’s weary and wants to know if it’s better to turn around and go back, or if they have the energy to make it to the end.

The question is where you are going.

When hiking a trail system, there are people who are hiking short loops, and others hiking long trails that those shorter trails are part of.

The short-loop hikers often have more energy, and if you’ve been slogging the trail for hours and come across them, it can be disheartening when you come upon them, not knowing they are on a short walk instead of an all-day hike. They have so much bounce and energy while you can barely manage to take off your pack to find a snack and a log to sit on.

Sometimes there are spurs, little trails that wander off from the main trail. They won’t get you to your destination but they will take you to a scenic overlook or some kind of point of interest. If you take all of the spurs, however, you might see some lovely views but you’ll never make your destination in time.

Sometimes, as you’re hiking, you get a glimpse of the thing you’re headed towards even though it’s still miles away. It looks so close until you realize the true distance. Still, it’s reassuring to know that the thing you’re headed for actually exists out there somewhere.

Maybe the trees open into a clearing, maybe there’s a hill or small mountain you find yourself up on the top of—but as wonderful as the view is, you can’t stay there or you won’t actually make it to the end.

Along your journey, you might leave a marker to let those coming behind you know which way to go and how to best stay on the path to the destination.

Or you might place a marker at either a high or low point, not so much to help those coming behind you find their way, but simply to let them know something happened here. It’s more for you than anyone else.

For those of us stuck inside of time, life really is a journey.

In the Bible, Paul wrote that we are to press on towards the goal. John Bunyan wrote an entire book illustrating the Christian life as a journey. We often refer to our faith as a Christian walk.

The trouble is I don’t always understand where people are on the hike.

They’re on a spur, a short loop, heading a different direction, lost—whatever it might be, the map and official signs are what I need to take my cues from, not the hikers I see along the way.

There are also those who would take the hike and package it up as a standard experience, assuring you that if you walk at such-and-such a pace in a certain direction with a certain goal in mind, you will arrive in a precise manner. They forget about thunderstorms and avalanches and mudslides and sprained ankles.

All the preaching in the world telling us not to compare our hike to the next guy’s is excellent advice, but tough to practice. It just feels too trite and easy to simply say “everyone is at a different place in their journey” because I guess I’ve seen it one too many times on Facebook to consider it deep philosophy at this point. Familiarity breeds contempt.

I see how fast that other guy is walking and the great views he gushes about seeing. I have to remember where I started, and where God has led me since. Let the people on the loops and spurs and those with longer legs do their thing.

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