This Monday School post is inspired by my backpacking trip over the weekend. According to the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club there are 165,000 or so white blazes on the Appalachian Trail. A blaze is a 2 inch by 6 inch vertical rectangle painted in white on trees, rocks, posts….even bridges to mark the AT. Some hikers forgo a map and only follow the white blazes to guide them on the trail.
I never knew what a blaze was until I had to know what it was. It’s a good thing our guide shared about them because they helped as I trekked the trail alone in the snow on my first AT hike. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Follow the white blazes.
It makes me think of the exchange between Jesus and Philip in John chapter one.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43
What Jesus didn’t say is just as important. He didn’t tell Philip to get his act together. He didn’t give him a checklist or any instructions. He didn’t require him to quote a large section of the Old Testament or ask him about his past.
Jesus said, “Follow me.”
Philip followed. Then he told his friend Nathanael and he followed Jesus.
Is it that simple? Follow Jesus and tell our friends about it?
Or are we like the teachers of the law and the Pharisees called out by Jesus in Matthew 23, adding heavy burdens and strict rules? Have we made it something it’s not supposed to be?
The white blazes are easy to follow usually, but hikers miss a blaze and get off course. This past weekend a young hiker asked us if he was on the AT. When we told him we were, he asked us to tell the young lady following him at a distance that she was on the right course. She smiled with a sigh of relief when we assured her she was where she was supposed to be.
That’s what friends are for.