In late July of 2013, a hiker by the name of Geraldine Largay disappeared off the Appalachian Trail. She had completed over 1000 miles of the 2168 mile Appalachian route. While searching commenced within days of her not reaching a waypoint, the emergency responders never located Geraldine. In October of 2015, a forester located a body which was later identified as Geraldine. According to a journal and unsent text messages, Geraldine survived 22 days after becoming lost. Before succumbing to hypothermia, she wrote in her journal, “When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry.”
Each of us is traversing a similar trail both physically and spiritually. It is fraught with dangers that can ultimately leave us in ruin. Satan, as Peter warns, “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The allure propagated by Satan to draw us away from light and into the darkness has left its toll on God’s Church. But our small numbers and outward weakness is by no means indicative of God’s failure. Paul quite succinctly defined the cause of man becoming spiritually lost, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Being aware of our proclivities for failure is important in building strength to overcome. It is in the small spiritual victories that God is testing and ultimately rewarding us. Christ showed just how important these small triumphs are in building the basis for an eternal life in the Family of God, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’” (Matthew 25:21).
Geraldine, according to one of her texts, left the well-trodden path to relieve herself, became disoriented, and never found her way back. That innocuous act, maybe when she was tired or not fully paying attention to her surroundings, caused her tragic death. Paul warns us of falling into an attitude of complacency, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
We know that trials will befall us. But the path before us will never grow unclear or hard to follow unless we make it so. God is testing each of us, not to cause our failure but to lead us to salvation. We follow a path to freedom, to an eternal reward promised by God.