God took the first step.
For everyone who dreams of completing a thru hike, it all begins with a first step to make that dream a reality. Photos from Katahdin make it plain that all the arduous conditions, moments of boredom, logistical obstacles, blisters, and wet clothes are overcome in that victorious moment, long after the first step.
Not all is smooth between Springer and Katahdin. The difficulties of the trail can cause discouragement, strain relationships, and leave one with feelings of isolation.
The Bible records events that make clear God's relationship to humanity and His unique use of the wilderness to draw humankind to Himself. On a thru hike of His own, though offended by our sin, He took every step necessary to reconcile us to Himself and overcome those trespasses.
"In Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
(2 Corinthians 5:19-21 ESV).
Please note three things.
First, God does not write us off when we offend Him, when reconciliation is needed. He goes to work to initiate reconciliation. In spite of the fact that our "trespasses" are the cause, God initiates reconciliation.
Second, God's initiative involves "ambassadors for Christ". Those who share His "message" do so solely from a desire to see others experience what they have so joyfully received.
Thirdly, reconciliation was costly to God. The statement "He made Him to be sin" is a reference to Christ's sin-bearing sacrifice on the cross in our place. "So that In Him we might become the righteousness of God". This is the most wonderful exchange in history - when we turn to Him, believing in Him for forgiveness, our sin is transferred to Him and His righteousness is transferred to those who believe.
So as you step on the trail this year, consider the steps the greatest Thru Hiker of all has taken for you. Thanks be to God!