By Jeff Ginn
When I was in graduate school in Memphis many moons ago, a friend of mine and I decided to take a spring break trip. We planned to travel to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee to do a multi-day hiking and camping trek in the “backcountry.” For weeks in advance we planned our trail itinerary—how many miles we would cover in a day and where we would camp each evening. Our schedule was aggressive but we felt that we could do it.
The national park required that a ranger sign off on our plan. The ranger assigned to our case looked over our plan and promptly denied it. She said that it was out of the question. Too ambitious. She implied that we were incapable of doing what we’d outlined—that the demands of the backcountry at that pace might even put us into danger. We were ticked!
We insisted that we see her supervisor. He looked over our plan and—to add insult to injury—he completely agreed with her! Our choice was simple: cut back on the itinerary per their suggestions or tuck tail and head back home. We reluctantly bowed to their demands.
Once we got out into the back country and came face-to-face with the challenges of the trail, we realized pretty quickly that she was right! We even said that, if we ever got back to civilization, we ought to return to the park headquarters and thank her!
Turns out she knew better than we did. We were novices and inexperienced. We desperately needed the wisdom of someone who knew well both the beauty and the dangers of the trail.
Life is a lot like that Smoky Mountain wilderness. We are on a trek through life and we desperately need the wisdom of one who knows the trail. The good news is that, not only do we have a guide who knows the trail, he created it and us!
The New Testament book of James is like a trail guide for life. It makes the spiritual practical. By the inspiration of God’s Spirit, James brings God’s truth to where the rubber hits the road or, should I say, to where the boots hit the trail.
Jeff Ginn is pastor of the Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Ginn’s editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.