When Hiking Steep Heinous Terrain Opens the Eyes of the Heart

Here is a simple wilderness teachable moment on “cutting switchbacks” using the S + T + IC = K  Method for opportunity teaching in the wilderness.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints… (Ephesians 1:18)

S | SETTING (Terrain):

Steep hiking. After hiking up some of the steep grade after you have switched back a couple of times, stop the group for a rest and point out this teachable moment.


Cutting switchbacks up the steep section                   


“Stay on path… Endure and stay the course… Don’t cut corners and God will be faithful to make your paths straight.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

K | KNOT (Tying the Knot = transferring what we learn from experience in the wilderness to life back at home):

How easy it is to cut corners in life. The same is true in our spiritual journey. When approaching difficulty in your walk with God, don’t fall prey to these two temptations: 1) giving up and heading back to previous comforts, or 2) hiking straight up the hill in your own strength.

God is not asking you to climb straight up, he will provide a pace that is not more than you can handle, so trust him and stay on the path:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

When walking on switchbacks it seems like a waste of time because it is not the shortest distance up the hill. But it is the best mode of travel and in the long run will take you less time and effort. It’s like the race between the turtle and the rabbit. The turtle won because of his endurance. He walked a steady pace while the rabbit tried to spring.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)


  • Please comment below on any experiences you have had where you used the creation analogy of cutting switchbacks.


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