Psalm 37 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 37: 4-5 Northbound from Boiling Springs 5/3/13


“Take delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.

 Commit your way to the Lord, put your trust in the Lord,

and see what God will do.”  

Psalm 37:4-5

Reflection: It all started with a crazy idea:  I would start hiking the AT , beginning near my home—6, 8, 10 miles at a time, whenever I could find a day off and wherever I could find road access for my husband to drop me off and pick me up.  I need to walk, but I don’t care much for counting how many times I can walk a circle around a park.  I do, however enjoy a hike through the woods and across farmland.  It keeps me centered, sane and healthy… and is a bit of an adventure as I log miles into a notebook with descriptions of what I’ve seen.  And so one May morning in 2013, I stood on the AT just north of Boiling Springs, PA, (pictured above) and began the first step of something that grew bigger than I intended, stretching to 650 miles and still counting.

If you had asked me that morning why I was starting the project, I think I would have said it was just a desire of mine.  I’m rethinking that answer.  I once had a mentor who explained the psalm we are reading  this way: the psalmist doesn’t mean God gives us what we want, but that God puts our most genuine desires in our hearts in the first place.  Not in some kind of predestined, robot-like way, but in the way Frederick Buechner says best: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  There was no doubt about my eager gladness to hike. What was a surprise was it mushrooming from day hiking to a two month backpacking venture with more treks on the horizon.  What I also didn’t expect with that first step out of Boiling Springs was God’s desire to use this crazy idea to make me a wiser pastor and teacher for the needs and spiritual hungers of others, a humbler person with a stronger faith, and one with a healthier body to boot.  “Take delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire….and see what the Lord will do.”  This verse makes me laugh with…well, gladness, I guess.  What desire do you think God has put in your heart that might meet the world’s deep hunger?


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  What desire do you think God may have put in your heart that could meet the world’s deep hunger?

2. Or read all of Psalm 37 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 38:15

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.



  1. Holly Simons says:

    The idea of unexpected journeys is captivating, dear Elaine. These “trails” mark our seasons, our decades, do they not? A recent journey for me has been an unexpected invitation to swim regularly at the “only pool in town”…. this friend had a membership (expensive, unattainable for me) and wanted accountable regularity for exercise. We meet early 3 days a week, and the joy unspeakable has caught me unawares. As hiking for you, I have known for years that swimming is my discovery of joy in body movement and exercise health.
    In the few short NH summer months, I am often exploring and swimming at length in the local lakes. Winter forms of exercise had some attraction (X-country skiing, indoor videos), but I could never be consistent.
    So now a gift….. a friend to offer my favorite (and affordable) exercise AND the loving accountability we both need to keep bodily health a priority.
    God is good and I am so grateful that He knew this heart’s desire and so graciously opened this door….as He promised.

    • Yes, perhaps each of us is invited to go on a number of pilgrimages in our life and each pilgrimage brings its own gift and learning. I have been on two “walking ” pilgrimages and on each one God taught me valuable things I would need in my daily life off the trail. Read Kelvin Wright’s comment on the Facebook link to this post. He quotes a wonderful poem by David Whyte about pilgrimage helping us heal from loss. The poem reminds me of your journey into your new community of faith. What a wonderful story you have shared about the pilgrimage of swimming and the hospitality of a friend that offered it to you—a baptismal pilgrimage. 🙂 Thank you.