Lauren Stark shares three lessons that she learned from taking part in our Freedom Challenge in Utah last month


If Jesus hiked up Double Peak with us today, I wonder what kind of hiker he would look like? Would he use poles? Would he have Merrill hiking boots? What kind of trail mix would he be munching on? Would he carry an extra pair of socks or bring a holy can of mace?

I believe Jesus was an expert hiker. He holds the record for completing the hardest hike ever. But he looked differently doing it. He didn’t have supportive, protective boots. No change of socks. Was he even wearing sandals? Maybe he did it barefoot? Feeling every sharp pebble or stick. Stubbing toes, getting hotspots. I don’t think he had an Osprey backpack full of water. He had an unbearably heavy piece of wood splintering into his already beaten back. The pain of the pressure of that cross on his shoulder makes me gasp! A face unrecognizable beaten to a pulp. His beard ripped from his cheeks. A crown of prickly thorns digging into his head. World's worst migraine. No electrolyte gummies to keep him energized. No, what kept him going was my face. Perhaps even this very moment as I write a blog to bring life to others: “He lost his life so I can find mine here.” He hiked and died so I can live and live abundantly. How great is our God!

But he doesn’t stop there. He hiked again. He was on every hike as I trained. And he hiked with me in Utah. We had three main hikes and as I was giving my attention to pray for freedom for the oppressed he brought his attention back to me. I learned three things:

Hike 1

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Elevation 7800 - Air pressure is different when up this high. Your lungs aren’t used to it. There is a “panic” feeling that can set in as it feels like you can’t catch your breath. A fellow hiker described it as running a marathon while breathing through a straw. I started to freak out in my mind: “God calm me down, I want to enjoy this hike.” God replied “And I want you to enjoy your journey with me.”

You see for the past year and a half I’ve been living with this secret vision of me running/operating a rehab facility. A place of complete healing and restoration for people who are trapped with addiction. I pray and pray for some sort of door to be opened. I get frustrated waiting on him since my current reality doesn’t match what's in my heart. Through the elevation change in my lungs the Lord brought to my attention that we go through “spiritual” elevation change as well. If he takes me from spiritual point A to point B too fast and I’m not ready I will freak out, panic, suffocate and run for the hills. He knows what he is doing. His timing is important and he wants me to enjoy the process. 

Hike 2

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Before we move on Lauren we have to knock down some idols you've built.  We started our 2nd hike with a big rock in our hand. We couldn't put it down, even if we had to get into our packs we had to ask a friend to hold it. We carried it for four miles. At the top of the mountain we were told to lay our “something” down, something we needed to be free from. God revealed to me that I have an unhealthy appetite for the need to feel important and the need to be recognized in the eyes of man. If we are going to build our dream rehab then it can't be about me. He needs to get all the glory, not me. 

Hike 3


Who you climb with matters. Our 3rd hike was the hardest yet. 12 miles in triple digits. I was doing great until about mile five. I couldn't get my body cooled down and I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I couldn't shake that feeling. Trying to remain calm for about another mile or so didn't work and I had a little meltdown. I can't do this!! I just balled in my hands. My lady hiker friends gathered around me, prayed and encouraged me. They helped cool me down, lightened my load and nourished me. Something in my attitude shifted and I put my big girl panties on and got myself out of there! It was no beauty pageant but i'm pretty sure God framed it somewhere in heaven. Who you climb with matters -who you do life with matters. 

So if you have not done freedom challenge before I beg you to please sign up. You just might be freed from something too!

You can sign up for our next Challenge to the Grand Canyon here.