Yesterday I read a book. Yes, a whole book. It’s a luxury of being on a solitude retreat overlooking the North Shore of Lake Superior.
The book, titled The Long Walk, is a true story written by Slavomir Rawicz. He was arrested in 1939, having committed no crime, and sentenced to prison for 25 years. His spirit could not remain caged. He escaped with 6 other men from a Soviet labor camp in the middle of Siberia near Yakutsk – just south of the Arctic Circle. They walked by foot for thousands of miles to reach freedom in India. They had each other – and even let a young girl who was also escaping persecution join their tribe. The book fascinated me as I read about all they overcame; the bitter cold, the fear of being caught, the heat of the desert, the impassable mountains, the starvation and the lack of water. Week after week after week, they showed ingenuity to survive and a determination to never give up. When their tanks were empty, they dug deep and took just one more step that was needed to move them forward. I couldn’t put the book down. The resilience of the human spirit inspires me – always.
As I was hiking the other day near Gooseberry Falls, in my own little world of peace and comfort, I noticed the different obstacles along the way. The roots in the path I had to carefully not twist an ankle on, the steep inclines and, even more difficult, the slippery, muddy declines. There were detours to avoid large puddles deeper than the top of my boots and times I had to guess where I was going because I didn’t know exactly where I was at the time.
I noticed how I got tired and wanted to turn back. It’s human nature to think about quitting when we get tired – when our tanks our left with only fumes to fuel us.
Where are you in the walk? Has the path been inundated with things to step over and maneuver? Are there landmines that make you afraid to move; or maybe there has been a detour you didn’t see coming? Has it been exhausting? Has your soul grown weary? I want to encourage you. God wants to encourage you. Take just one more step.
Maybe it leads to rest, maybe it leads to action like calling a friend, telling someone your story… wherever it leads, take the step, don’t give up.
It took Slavomir and his friends 12 months and 4000 miles to get to freedom. It was not without some of the greatest hardships of his life. At times, they didn’t know the way. At times, he felt like he was at the end of himself. But he did make it. He was able to take another step!
When we don’t know the way or when we get to the end of ourselves, lean your ear towards heaven and hear God say, “I am with you. Stay close and we will find a way.”