My wife and I visited the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia recently. We went on a day hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Dolly Sods is called a “wilderness” for a reason. More than 17,000 acres have been preserved and it is one of the most remote places in the eastern part of the United States.
After we gathered food and water, and put them in the backpack, we started the journey. The drive from the main road is approximately 18 miles, most of it on a gravel road. After arriving at the parking area, we started down the trailhead we chose, intending to complete an 11.8 mile loop. Parts of Dolly Sods are known for water and mud. At one point on the trail we came to a relatively small creek, forded the creek, and started back to the left paralleling the waterway.
The only problem was, it was extremely wet, and things digressed quickly. At one point I was up to my knees in water and mud, on the main trail, and had to make a decision which way to go. Up toward higher ground seemed to be the only option, so we started up on the ridge, only to find ourselves in bushwhacking territory pretty quickly with thick brush and rocks as far as we could see. As you might imagine, a rocky area with thick bushes is also prime territory for snakes. So another decision had to be made. Should we try to press through and see if we could clear it at some point, or should we turn around and backtrack at least part of the way on the return journey?
At this point we were about six to seven miles in on the trail. The afternoon was progressing quickly. We had seen sparingly few other hikers at all during the day. So we decided it best to backtrack and come back around in an area we were certain of and familiar with. After about six hours of hiking (which we anticipated in planning) and 11 to 12 miles of ground covered, we returned to the parking area tired and dirty, but feeling accomplished.
Hiking over rugged terrain, reading trail maps, and making adjustments along the way, requires diligence. Diligence is also necessary for faithfulness in life and ministry. Diligence is a matter of your heart. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NASB). Nobody drifts toward holiness. We pursue it and guard our hearts in the process.
Diligence is necessary in your relationship with God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). Faith believes, and moves one to diligently seek God.
Diligence helps you grow in holiness. “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14 ESV). Await the Lord with anticipation. In the meantime, be pure and at peace with him.
Diligence impacts your work ethic. “A lazy man doesn’t roast his game, but to a diligent man, his wealth is precious.” (Proverbs 12:27 HCSB). There is no place for idleness or for laziness when you are giving your best effort for God. Press on and work hard and God will reward your diligence.
Finally, diligence will be rewarded spiritually. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV). Seeing where the trail leads is not always easy. Just keep your head down, stay focused, and keep moving. God will bring the harvest.