By Lisa Huddleston
God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. (Psalm 18:32-36, NLT)
I recently read this psalm in a Bible study group, and it immediately reminded me of an event from last spring. My husband, a couple good friends, and I took a wonderful trip to Yosemite National Park. It was our second visit there, but it was just as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the first.
Due to the pandemic, crowds were down, and we were able to enjoy the trails with few distractions often breaking into hymns inspired by the views. The waterfalls were roaring, and it was a fabulous, active week. Until we decided to take an off trail hike to the foot of El Capitan. Signs warned of the dangers of falling rocks, and the ground was totally covered with all sized granite boulders. But we were not dissuaded and awkwardly made our way to the imposing wall that is El Cap. We gave it hugs and kisses, took goofy pictures and lay at its foot to stare up its impressive, smooth height. It was utterly breathtaking.
Then something happened that really took my breath away. As we climbed back down from El Cap, we could barely find any ground to step on. My husband, who could possibly be part mountain goat, bounced down with no trouble. But I was carefully feeling my way slowly and hesitantly. At one point, Chuck reached for my hands and said to relax and just jump from one stone to the next. I honestly did ponder the idea which seemed a little risky to me, but I grabbed his hands and jumped. The first footfall was perfect but on the second I quickly slid down and whacked my right shin on the knife-like edge of granite. In seconds, my sock, boot, and pant leg were soaked in blood.
Since I am writing this you know I survived. My husband applied pressure, tied a shirt around my leg, and gave me an arm to lean on as we hiked back to the smooth, wide trail that led to the car. Seven or eight stitches later and a ugly dippy scar on my leg, we can laugh about another one of my klutzy vacation adventures: rogue pacific waves, a fast downhill Segway tour, a near fall from a very tall horse … I’ve done a lot of crazy things.
But back to Psalm 18, besides the need for surefootedness, I also recognize several other important lessons from my experience. If I had been stronger, my hike may have been less eventful, my arms wouldn’t have buckled, and my foot may not have slipped.
And most importantly if I had stayed in the wide path, I wouldn’t have fallen at all!
Thank you, Father, for the strength you provide when I lean on you, for the training that makes me surefooted, victorious, supported, and firmly walking on the wide path you have prepared for me.