John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.
With a bit of sadness, I have walked through the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. Sad, because I have seen familiar faces and met many wonderful people! All have been extremely supportive of this unique ministry, and I have really “felt the love”!
Jesus, in speaking to his disciples before the Passover Feast, declared that all people would know them as his disciples by their love for one another. He then gave them (and us as his followers and disciples) a new commandment to “…Love one another as I have loved you,…”.
What a tough thing to do! Jesus loved us so much that he gave his life up for us! It sounds like an impossible command! However, I have experienced being the recipient of that kind of love from the great people of the Holston conference.
Lord Jesus, Thank you for loving me so much that you gave your life for me! Thank you that you use people like the people of the Holston Conference to demonstrate your love. Thank you that I’m “feeling the love”.
Jack with Pastor Rick Lindamood, center, and wife Carol. Rick is the pastor of West End United Methodist Church. Rick’s Grandfather attended Lindamood School. West End UMC provides Trail Magic (soft drinks, gator aide, snacks, and hiker toiletries) at the school. I was fortunate enough to run into them while they were resupplying the trail magic boxes. Their son Josh was the Holston Conference’s first Appalachian Trail Chaplain.
There have been many others in the Holston Conference that have helped along the way! Did I mention that I’m “feeling the love!”
Acts 2:46. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
The best meal on the AT is the evening meal. Not everyone stops to eat a full breakfast or lunch, but at the end of the day everyone is ready for a full meal. All shelters have some type of picnic table and the tables are full of hikers cooking, eating, and having lively conversation.
Meals are mostly made from some type of store bought dehydrated food that can be quickly rehydrated. Ramen noodles with tuna, chicken, or even peanut butter are a staple. I like instant mashed potatoes with spam… Don’t knock it ’till ya try it.
To me, the evening meal is the best time to get to know other hikers. It sounds to me that in the early church, immediately after Pentecost, early believers also used meals eaten together to get to know one another and to learn more about Christ.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for the privilege of walking the Appalachian Trail. Help me to connect with other hikers. Show me ways in which I can serve them in your name.
This past week has brought much sadness, mourning, fear, and despair to the AT hiking community with the murder of “Stronghold.”
I did not personally have the chance to meet “Stronghold,” however all of us in the hiker community have a strangely close bond whether we have met, or not.
We have all become more cautious of people outside of the hiker community as we meet them on the trail, and as we visit trail towns and communitys. We tell ourselves that this was a very isolated event. And yes, this was a very isolated event, but we still have our fears.
I personally know of one hiker who left the trail in tears, and I am sure there are more that have left.
I wonder about the trail name “Stronghold” since stronghold is mentioned many times in the Bible mostly in relation to spiritual warfare. It is my hope that “Stronghold” used this term because of his relationship to his Heavenly Father.
Lord Jesus, with all my fears, I take refuge in You! You God, are my refuge and my stronghold!
Some of my favorite trail photos as a tribute to “Stronghold.”