by Pam Condie, OAM
This past year has been quite a journey for me – emotionally and spiritually. Like innumerable other people around the world we had to cancel long-held plans, and so missed sharing significant family events, because of Covid.
I find myself reading Scripture, and other books, with a slightly different focus as the narrative surrounding the various protagonists’ journeys unfolds. The Bible encapsulates the journey concept doesn’t it? Put simply, it’s the history of God’s journey of reconciliation with the people of his creation and our journey towards him.
Journeys can be a lot of fun, they can be rewarding, but they can also be challenging. Sometimes we encounter unexpected bumps in the road. We may temporarily lose our way or encounter unanticipated detours. We may risk losing sight of our goal. In tackling the difficulties of our immediate situation, we can forget the reason we set out in the first place!
Over the years I’ve undertaken quite a few journeys. Some required exhaustive research and planning. Other times, we’ve blissfully set off with precious little planning. Sometimes, our outcomes have been, “This may not have been a good idea…”, “Maybe I shouldn’t have…” I’m sure you get my drift. And, at times, despite all the preparation, I didn’t appreciate how hard it was going to be.
One journey, in particular, had a profound impact on me: the Coast to Coast (C2C) walk across England (from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea). We thought we’d done sufficient research and planning. Estimates about the actual distance differ (most hover around 305-315km) as do estimations about the time it takes to complete the walk. We planned for, and took, 15 days.
The planning was pretty much okay. We thoroughly read the guidebook written by the walk’s architect (Alfred Wainwright), We noted other C2C-ers’ experiences and advice. Our itinerary was based on achievable daily distances; accommodation was booked. Yet, we were not really prepared for the many challenges of this walk. In places the climbs seemed almost vertical; as were the accompanying descents! I found myself physically and mentally challenged.
Virtually every morning (at least as we walked through the beautiful Lake District) we had to climb up a mountain to commence that day’s walk. My knees ached. It was hard going sometimes. And each afternoon we had to come down from the mountain to reach the village for our night’s rest.
Each day, as we climbed those mountains, I spent more time silently conversing with God. He didn’t take away the pain, but he helped me to keep going. Each day brought our goal of walking into Robin Hood’s Bay closer. On reaching the half-way point we celebrated. We stowed the old map in our packs, and opened the new map covering the second half of the journey.
There were definitely “bumps in the road” moments during those 15 days of walking. Some decisions led to dislocation as we realised we weren’t where we should be. Some uphill climbs were more challenging than anticipated. Some days we battled rain, wind, and people’s whose advice that would have led us astray. We had to cross railway tracks and a major highway without pedestrian crossings. We experienced sheer tiredness, sore feet, boggy ground…I could list many more. Do these sound familiar? Some could be seen as metaphors for parts of our life’s journey.
Over the years since I completed the C2C, I’ve recognised that each challenge had a spiritual element to it. Those two weeks of physical challenge taught me a lot about myself, about endurance – and my relationship with God.
I experienced afresh the complete and utter reliability of God. I began looking forward to the daily uphill slog and even the painful knees because, as I walked, my prayer time with God deepened.
When I struggled, I cried out to him. And he answered. The path didn’t magically become smooth and easy. The challenge remained. It was often rough, often uphill, sometimes dangerous, but God was there with me. He helped me conquer each of the daily challenges I faced. The pain in my knees didn’t go away, but God gave me perseverance. When it rained, when we felt as if the wind would blow us right over the edge of that particular cliff, we knew God was with us both and he kept our feet on the right path. When we strayed, he brought us back. Sounds like life, doesn’t it?
What has your journey been like so far? What is God showing you about yourself? About him? About your relationships – with God and with others?
The Apostle Paul’s life journey was full of obstacles. God didn’t magically take them away. He expected Paul to persevere, overcome, and keep going to the end.
Nothing’s changed. He expects us to do the same – to trust him and to persevere. He has a great reward waiting for us when we finally cross that finishing line and reach our life’s goal. Each of us will be able to say with Paul,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day...” (2 Timothy 4:7-8; New International Version)
Pam’s been involved in Girls’ Brigade as company captain, State Training Co-ordinator, Girls’ Leadership Course Director, and State Commissioner. She was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia in 1999 for service to youth leadership development in Queensland. She spent 14 years on the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Australia Board including over 4 years as Board Chair and recently completed an 8 year term on the Board of Queensland Baptists. She currently serves as the President of the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force Association (Qld). Pam holds both a Bachelor Degree and a Graduate Diploma of Theology and has recently completed a Doctor of Ministries. She will commence working as denominational archivist on 1 July 2020.
Pam is married to David. They have three adult children, two of whom are married and have blessed Pam and David with grandchildren (now all young adults).
Pam also served on the State Award Committee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Queensland for 10 years and worked for the Award as a Project Officer. In 2015 Pam and David went to PNG with MAF where David served as Interim Engineering Maintenance Manager for the PNG programme for nearly 18 months
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