This week we hear from Kate Jonkman…
There we were, Tim and I, talking about my future. Or rather, the fact that I had no clue what my future holds. I was trying to explain myself and seemed to be failing … miserably. Then Tim said something like this, “I completely understand where you are. Jesus is a lamp to our feet – that doesn’t mean we know the whole journey, but we know the next step. For you, the next step is the Appalachian Trail.” Yes! That’s exactly it. Somehow Tim managed to put into words that which I could not.
I don’t know what my life will look like in 5-7 months, but I do know that I can trust God to direct me there.
But first, how did we get here?
Two and a half years ago, Ben and I made the decision to hike the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). That’s 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine. Since then, we’ve worked hard at making this dream a reality. To be totally honest, much of our progress has been by the grace of God and how His unbelievably creative planning far exceeds our ability to prepare.
On an individual level, Ben and I have different reasons for why we are hiking the A.T. We have to. Difficult days will require a motivation that is personal and unique to our own selves. For me, I want to see a dream through from start to finish. I want to live by the command in Joshua 1:9, “…be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Simply put, fear has held me back from a lot of dreams, and I’m tired of regretting.
For us together, the hike is a way to strip the excess and get back to the core. We want to realign ourselves to have a more simple and intentional existence. Do we need hike over 2,000 miles to do this? No. However, it’s the avenue we’ve chosen because (holy cannoli) it sounds amazing. Ben and I find contentment through backpacking. It’s surprising how the few items that you carry can meet all of your needs. Don’t have something? 9 times out of 10 you didn’t really need it anyway. Do you really need something? Probably someone else in the community is carrying it and will offer their kindness.
In Luke 3:9-14, we are called to live generous lives that are free from materialism. The moment we committed to the Appalachian Trail, I felt lighter. For the most part, I didn’t want to acquire stuff anymore. Especially since we would just be getting rid of it in a year or so. Our decision immediately changed my mindset from, “What don’t I have? What am I missing?” To, “I have so much. My life is full. I am content.” As we have stop acquiring and are scaling down our belongings, we have gained the ability to be more generous with our resources – investing in moments and other people. We haven’t set one foot on this hike and already I am a better person for it.
Planning for the trail has also made me more grateful. I’m grateful for how active God is in this process. There have been many times where His presence was palpable, where God repeatedly showed Himself to be faithful by opening up opportunities and contacts that I would have never dreamed we’d have. I’m also grateful for the large amount of love and support we’ve received from the people around us. I’m grateful for the last 2 plus years on staff at South Harbor and for the luxury to be able to put our lives on hold while we challenge ourselves. I’m grateful for the technology that makes our challenge easier and allows us to stay better connected with loved ones through it all. There’s so much more that I’d like to list, but the point is … I’m grateful. And I’m content. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good place to be at for the start of this journey.
What happens now?
On March 21st, Ben and I step foot on the trailhead and begin making our way to Maine. We will need strength, perseverance, and prayer to finish this thing. Only 1 in 4 do. We will look to God for strength and perseverance. However, I’m going to selfishly ask you to cover us with prayer.
As I prepare for probably one of the biggest physical and mental battles I’ve ever faced, I know steadfastness is the key to overcoming adversity and growing as an individual. Endurance, diligence, patience – it all pays off. The journey may be difficult at times. In fact, I can almost guarantee it will be. However, what stands to be gained is so very much worth it.
If you’d like to follow our journey over these next several months, feel free to visit our website by clicking HERE.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a verse that I have a sneaky feeling will become my mantra out there on the Appalachian Trail:
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1:4 NIV