It’s always been a dream of mine to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. It’s a hiking trail that starts in North Georgia and ends in Maine. It’s more than 2,200 miles long and one of the longest hiking trails in the world. So, a few years ago I decided I was going to do it a section at a time. I calculated that if I hike two weeks a year, I can finish it in 20 years. A couple of weeks ago, I completed another section of the trail so, slowly but surely, I’ll have done the entire hike by the time I am 74.
To a lot of people, hiking for thousands of miles through the wilderness seems like a daunting, even dangerous challenge, but technology and the internet have made it so easy to know what to expect before you go. I even have an app on my phone that not only shows me the map of the trail, but it lets hikers leave comments and tips for other hikers. It has information about everything, from where to get water to where the best tent sites are. It’s amazing to stop and think about the amount of knowledge and experience I can glean from hikers who have gone before me and just by logging in to an app on my phone.
In the modern age we have an incredible amount of information about almost anything available to us at any time. If there’s any skill you want to learn or goal you want to accomplish, someone has written a blog about it or created a video on Youtube about how to get started. Even if you’re just looking for a new place to eat, you can go on Yelp and know exactly where to go without having to try everything yourself.
When it comes to life’s most important decisions though, it’s not always that easy. If you’re in a new season of life, whether it’s starting college, having a baby or becoming empty nesters, it’s harder to figure out the best way to handle it. And just knowing what is coming in the next season doesn’t guarantee you’re going to do well. The biggest mistake would be trying to go through those seasons alone. When we’re faced with challenges, it might feel like our situation is so unique that we have to figure things out on our own. But truthfully, there’s really not as much mystery to our lives as we like to think. Whatever new season you’re about to move through, someone has experienced it. That’s why it so important to seek out and nurture relationships with people who have not only been there before, but can be trusted to give wise council.
In the Old Testament, King Solomon was known as the wisest man alive, yet throughout the book of Proverbs he stresses the importance of asking for help. In Proverbs 15:22 he wrote “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Even the wisest man knew that he couldn’t do everything on his own and that he needed council from others. I think most of us can attest to this in our own lives. There has probably been a time when you made a big decision without asking someone else’s advice. Maybe it was because of pride or ego, but it might have also been because you knew what the answer would be if we asked and it wasn’t the answer you wanted to hear.
Later on in Proverbs 26:12 Solomon puts it in even stronger terms. “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” It’s a humbling statement, but should also give you hope, especially if you feel like you’re ill-equipped for life’s tougher challenges. It matters less how smart or knowledgeable you are. What’s more important is being humble enough to seek out advice from those who have been there before.
We don’t have to know all the answers or find out what they are on their own. We can learn from each other and realize that no matter where you are in life, there is someone who has been there too.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at email@example.com.