The following are actual responses from comment cards given to staff in 1996 at the Bridger Wilderness Area: “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands...Please avoid building trails that go uphill...Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them...The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate them...Can I get reimbursed for a deer stealing my jar of pickles?...Escalators would help on steep uphill sections...Too many rocks are on the mountains.” If I was one of those challenged-to-be-patient staff members, I would probably say, “Are you kidding?!” Those comments would gag the pioneers who carved out a civilization in the wilderness many years ago.
Life offers many trials in our trails. Everything is not downhill, paved, convenient, and easy. “Through many tribulations we will enter the kingdom of God.” Therefore, like Paul and Barnabas, they “strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22).
Our deacons and staff will once again host the Widows and Widowers Luncheon this weekend. These folks have experienced steep uphill journeys and understand that all mountains include rocks, with some more rugged and jagged than others. However, they have discovered the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the sufficient grace of Christ. They recognize the truth of Proverbs 5:21, “For a man’s ways (and a widow’s) are before the eyes of the Lord, He ponders all his (her) paths.” Instead of trying to avoid them, may we ponder the paths, recognizing that for every grief there is grace, for every problem there is a solution, and for every loss there is the ultimate and best gain of Heaven.
That godly jailbird, the apostle Paul, said from prison, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We will all at some time lose loved ones to death, but our prayer is that they have trusted in Christ in order to know eternal life. For the believer, death is just getting more of Him as we meet Him face-to-face. We won’t be “reimbursed for deer who steal our pickle jars,” but we will be rewarded for our faithful service to Him in this life. Somehow I hear the singing cowboy, Roy Rogers: “Happy Trails to You.”