Dependent but not Weak
Everyone with a bona fide thru-hike has indisputably demonstrated strength of body and soul. The first weeks on the trail have a way of weeding out those with good intentions, but without one or the other.
Despite the demonstrated strength of a thru-hiker, each one’s success is still dependent on many things during its course. Some are out of the hiker’s control. Severe weather, an unexpected sprain or fracture, or some calamity off the trail can derail a hike quickly. Even lesser barriers must be overcome by depending on others. Imagine the difficulty that would arise if one could not find trail markers, adequate resupply, equipment repair or replacement, a ride into town, or a shower now and then.
So, a dependent hiker is not a weak hiker.
Faith in Christ is somewhat like that. Having faith does not mean one is weak, but rather one who has found the source of strength, dependence on Christ.
Paul, the first century follower of Christ and apostle, could hardly be called weak. Here is a partial list of things he endured, all without giving up or quitting:
“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
Yet, he could also say “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
He had found a way to encounter great hardships, without being derailed from his mission and purpose, by relying on Christ.
More than that, for the most important trail of all, the path to heaven, Jesus urged that we would abandon our confidence in our accomplishments, and become like dependent children, exercising faith in Him, and not in our accomplishments in any way.
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18-3-4).
Paul got it. He fully grasped this and wrote of himself “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”. (Phil 3:8-9)
The righteousness required to enter heaven comes not from one’s strength or religious resume, but from full and total dependence on Christ alone, the only way to heaven. “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Those who jettison their pride and self-reliance find in Christ all that is needed to make it safely home to a most glorious summit, wonderful beyond imagination.