You can always check out the view.
The trail may get a lot of attention on a hiking trek to be sure one is stepping safely, firmly, and moving in a good direction. But for experienced hikers, the trail is rarely the focalpoint of the ascent. The real prize is in the view - the higher, farther, deeper look at the vastness and beauty of creation.
I twice hiked down from the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The first trip down, I must say, was all about my feet. After the initial thrill of hiking wore off, I wondered, "How many more steps will it take to get me where I am going?" We descended 10 miles down the Havasupi Trail to a camping ground near the Havasu Falls. Next, we hiked 20 miles round trip, passing Mooney and Beaver falls on our way out to, and back from, the Colorado River.
On the final day, making my way back up the Havasupai Trail, I ran into some serious trouble with my feet and legs. It seemed like they had had about enough. I wasn't sure how far I had come; I wasn't sure how far I had yet to go to reach the rim of the canyon; but I was pretty sure I was stuck right there on the trail, and that it would soon be getting dark.
Desperate and fearful, I started to pray. Then I was inspired to sing hymns to myself. I sang every hymn I could remember - hymns of comfort, hymns of praise, hymns recounting the divine presence, and strength, and beauty of God. Soon, I resumed the hike, moving along while quietly singing hymns.
And as I did, the scene began to change. Now, I could see my progress. I saw treetops instead of trunks, and instead of looking up the canyon walls to judge the distance yet to go, I looked out into the canyon. I knew I was progressing by my gratitude for the view.
Now, unafraid that I couldn't or wouldn't finish the climb, I spent the rest of the hike watching God's glorious might and majesty reveal itself to me at every turn, until I finally reached the top of the trail as the sun was beginning to set.
If you ever find yourself praying, and wondering if your prayers are getting you anywhere, it can help to pause to look away from the problem, to look out for the spiritual evidence of what God, divine Good, is doing right where you are.
Measuring progress by these spiritual views may not shorten the trail, and every step of effort will likely still be yours to make, but you will not be fooled into believing you are stuck, or possibly moving backwards. Divine Good is revealing itself in all its glory at every step and graciously moving you forward.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.