Years ago, when I was about 11, our family took a vacation to the Grand Canyon. There was a canyon trail that went all the way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We kids decided that we’d hike about halfway and then turn back. It shouldn’t take us more than a couple of hours. We thought.
We’d been warned that the hike was strenuous and to take it easy. But as we merrily skipped down those steep switchbacks, we exclaimed, “I don’t know what those rangers were talking about. This isn’t hard at all.”
We had broad-brimmed hats on and carried canteens filled to the brim with water. We had everything we needed for a quick hike down and back again.
After about an hour, the oldest brother said, “I think it’s about time we turned around.”
“Okay,” we happily answered. We started uphill.
It was very hot that day, probably close to 100 degrees. But you know how kids are. They really don’t notice the heat…at least for a while.
After about three switchbacks, we youngest kids started huffing. The trail was steep. Why hadn’t we noticed that when we were going downhill?
We began taking long pulls from our canteens, stopping frequently to catch our breaths.
It took us more than twice the time to get back to the top of the trail. Long before we reached the trail head, our water had run out. Man, were we ever glad to get back into shade at the trail information center.
The lesson from that trail hike stayed with me: know your own personal limits and plan accordingly.
It’s true for most things in life. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Of course, sometimes the Lord prods us to do a work that seems bigger than we feel we can take on.
But in most cases, assess your strengths, your interests, your experience, your spiritual maturity.
Ask yourself these five questions:
- Do I have the time to invest in this activity?
- What is the learning curve?
- Do I have the physical and emotional energy, not just to start but to finish well?
- How will this affect my family?
- What is my motivation for taking on this new work?
It’s always wise to consider the entire “trail” before embarking, not just the first few steps.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NIV Bible)