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story.lead_photo.caption This group of girlfriends love to hike and occasionally they coerce Lucy Luginbill to go with the promise of Starbucks coffee at the end. (Lucy Luginbill/Tri-City Herald/TNS)

It's autumn and I love the idea of being an outdoors-type gal as the temperatures cool.
The thought of the wind whistling through my hair as I effortlessly bicycle at amazing speeds along a golden tree-lined path. Or the concept of bass rising from the depths of a lake to peer wonderingly at my swift canoe. Or the mental picture of a scenic hike where I stride rapidly past brown-eyed fawns at every bend of the mountain trail, fallen leaves parting in my wake.
When my mind ponders the adventures that await, it almost makes my heart sing with anticipation. And one of these days when National Geographic runs out of new programs, I'll rise from the recliner and give it another try.
A few years back, my husband, Bill, who actually likes to go outside, had the idea that it'd be cool if I'd give this nature thing a try.
Once the shock wore off, the thought of perusing Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean catalogs for outdoorsy wear did seem exciting. And to add to the fun of a mountain hike, we invited other armchair enthusiasts along too. When we mentioned it, they "ooh'd" and "ah'd" enthusiastically, mainly because they hadn't been on a hike lately either.
Anyway, the whole gang plotted and planned until we came up with a trail at least a mile or two from Starbucks, a definite red flag that we were headed into the wilderness. And because we'd watched enough TV to know we'd need to "carb up" we mapped our trip close to buttermilk pancakes and extra syrup.
It was only when we finally lumbered to our destination at the "crack of noon" that we discovered the trail went straight up. No switchbacks, just an old-fashioned uphill climb OK for a lively 10-year-old but an extreme sport for creaky knees and rusty discs. Still we persevered.
As my hair wilted and new boots groaned, I knew something had to give besides my back. The first thing out of my cute and very heavy day pack was a gigantic bag of trail mix dotted with M&M's. Trained since childhood to "waste not, want not," I voluntarily ate the candy and heroically gave Bill the granola.
As we huffed and puffed our way up the vertical path, I was tempted to pour out my cache of water. But if there was one thing I'd learned from summer reruns, it was the thirst-quenching sips that would get me to the top. Sure enough, out of breath, but hydrated and refreshed I could finally appreciate the mountaintop view.
I'll have to admit that it's a whole lot easier thinking about being an outdoors-type gal than actually doing what it takes to be one.
In some ways you could compare my loving an idea more than the actual "doing" with the way I sometimes think about being a Christian-type gal.
For instance, I enjoy the idea of loving my neighbor, or the thought of forgiving others, or the image of not yielding to temptations, but then comes the "doing." I can't help but wonder if my picture of the Christian walk and what it takes is a bit like knowing the difficulty of a climb up Mount Rainier from the comfort of my living room.
The easy part is Sunday morning in the church pew and having thoughts about following a godly path. But Sunday is a long distance from the rest of the week. It's Monday when the trek really begins; a weeklong journey to be a doer of God's word and not just an armchair expert.
Step by step, it's putting faith into action. Some days it's a rigorous uphill climb to walk in the way God asks: to be patient with the co-worker who rubs a nerve; to resist the temptation to pass along tantalizing gossip; to adopt a loving attitude where bitterness would be the easier path. Yet at other times, the Christian walk may feel like a meadow stroll: Bible study, listening to a friend or preparing a meal with love.
But no matter where the week's journey takes me, I've found I can't walk the talk unless I hold onto the Living Water the One who refreshes, gives me strength and quenches my spiritual thirst. (John 4:14) It's Jesus Christ who gets me to the mountaintop, a place filled with joy and closeness to him.
He can do the same for you. Just take the first step.


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