First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Unexpected gifts.

February 29, 2016

    Ever have a day where you decided to do something on a whim only to realize pre-planning would have been much wiser? Yeah, well yesterday I decided to scale a mountainside in the Reedsville Narrows. I did plan. I took food and three bottles of water/gatorade/coconut water. I decided on shorts since the temps were in the 60s and had a ballcap and sunglasses. I chose sneakers over hiking boots....in hindsight I probably needed the boots. Quickly throwing things together seemed to cover all the necessary items needed. I drove to the site, loaded up all my hiking gear and started down the trail.

        “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he

        has enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28, NIV)

About a quarter mile down this sunlit path it occurred to me I had forgotten a solid walking stick (Oops!). Scaling rock strewn steep mountainsides is more easily negotiated with a walking stick. I began to scan both sides of the path looking for a suitable 'utensil'.  Lo and behold, off to the left laid a stick. It had been carefully de-barked and sharpened. Someone had made the stick for some purpose, used it, and discarded it into the brush. I gathered the stick which was the perfect length, it was solid, and it was light!  

    Long story short, this unexpected gift saved me on at least a half dozen mis-steps on the side of the mountain. There were places where I lost balance momentarily and drove the stick down to stop my fall. The stick help me in the ascent many times. Where there were few footholds, the stick served as an anchor. Had the climb been accomplished in May or June, the stick may well have been used on slithering reptiles. Gladly, the temps yesterday, while warm, were not snake worthy!  After reaching the summit, the views were breathtaking. 

                                                    (Looking up west 322 toward Reedsville and Milroy)

    Decending this glorious hunk of rock and trees was more difficult than one would suspect. The walking stick steadied me as I traversed down over boulders and between trees. As I reached the friendly level trail back to the truck, I began to thank God for all the blessings of the hike but especially for the stout walking stick. It is ironic, that what one person cast aside became my most important hiking implement.  As a way of giving thanks, I leaned the stick against the tree so that another hiker in need might be able to use this unexpected gift.

If you are climbing a mountain today, look for those steadying influences to help your navigation. Unwanted items left behind by others might be the saving grace you so need.  Be thankful and consider what kinds of gifts you are leaving behind for others to use? Are you willing to consider all that God has blessed you with as expendable and sharable?  I hope so. Who knew I would find God's grace in an old whittled stick!

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