Text: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Many of you have heard me tell about the trip that Jack McKinney, my former co-pastor here at Pullen, and I took to the Republic of Georgia some years ago. One of the most memorable experiences of that trip was an eight-hour hike that Malkhaz took us on across the mountains of Tbilisi. Some of you have also heard about that hike as I have mentioned it in other sermons. For those of you who have not heard of these stories, Malkhaz’s hikes are legendary and many who have experienced them return to the States with stories of how they “survived” the long trek from the center of town to the picturesque ruins of a 3rd century underground civilization. Until my hike with Malkhaz, I had always thought of a “hike” as an hour or two leisurely stroll around Umstead Park or some other national park. But Malkhaz gives new definition to hiking.
Like all novice hikers, Jack and I started out with great enthusiasm. After all, we were in the gorgeous mountains of the Republic of Georgia. We had no reason to worry about the kind of shoes we were wearing given that Malkhaz had on a pair of sandals that looked like what Jesus might have worn in his day. We definitely thought that the few bananas and olives along with the bit of cheese and few pieces of bread would suffice us in terms of nourishment until we returned to the city for lunch. And so, with a beautiful breeze to our backs and an eager spirit in our hearts, we set out for our hike.
Little did we know that we would, for eight hours, traverse hill after hill, walk through pasture after pasture, experience the sudden change of a gentle breeze to strong gusts of winds that, at times, had us walking sideways. Little did we know that the few bananas and olives along with the morsels of cheese and bread would be shared by all seven of us on the hike plus a shepherd man that we met along the trail. And little did we know that our once comfortable and trusted tennis shoes would leave blisters on Jack’s feet the size of quarters.