Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happiness is a Journey

It is called the longest continuously marked footpath in the world. For over two thousand miles the Appalachian Trail winds its way over the ridgetops and mountains of Eastern America from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. It has been described as “remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, the trail leads not merely north and south, but upward to the body, mind and soul of man.”

The lure of the trail is almost irresistible to some people. I am one of them, fascinated by the mystique and challenge of the remote and rugged terrain.

I first started talking and dreaming about the trail when I was in high school. A few years later I took my first sixty-mile backpacking trip on the Trail with my brother Bruce. Now I have hiked about one thousand miles of the trail altogether. That’s a lot of steps. Still I have a very long way to go in completing my lifetime goal of walking the trail, by bits and pieces, end to end.

Of the many thousands who have sampled parts of the Appalachian Tail, a relatively small number – a few hundred – have ever finished it. Some of those who have accomplished the feat have commented on a sense of being let down after reaching their goal.

Perhaps at the end of the trail is the discovery that joy is found not in arriving but in striving. Happiness in life is not a destination; it is a journey.

That’s one of the great things about walking the Christian pathway. God offers His followers much more than eternal life in the by-and-by. He gives abundant life in the here and now. Getting to heaven is half the fun.

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