I recently had the pleasure to go on a mini hike with an old friend. Neither of us had been on this trail before, so we essentially fell onto the nearest path and gave our best attempt at following a pdf map.
It started off well. Basically a straight line! So comfortable and natural. Surely we would finish these 2.5 miles with ease in good time.
But then we come across a suburban road. Excuse us? On a trail? Aren’t we in the middle of the woods? Well, you see, this straight line we were following actually looked nothing like the map. We were supposed to have followed a noticeable curve by now.
At this time, we needed to do some serious reorienting. What trail were we on anyway? If this was called the yellow trail, when was the last time we saw a yellow marker? We did what we only knew how to: we retraced our steps to the last time we were surely on the right path.
After we did that, an amazing thing happened. We kept seeing all the yellow signs! There were so many more, as were curved our way further into the woods. It was as if the person who mapped out the trail knew that people needed more help with the constant turning?!
Honestly, this taught me so many good lessons on life. Here are a few of them:
1) Just because a way seems right, doesn’t make it right. I was super confident that we were going the right way when we were walking in a straight line. It seemed right. I mean, how can you get lost if you just keep doing the same thing?! But that did nothing to change the fact that it was objectively the wrong path. Really supporting Proverbs 14:12 (“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death”).
2) When I head off the wrong path in life, the best thing I can do is retrace my steps to the last moment of confidence. I had to think about this a lot in these past months, as my plans were totally waylaid by the pandemic. It challenged a lot of my thought processes and imaginary futures that I had taken for granted. If they were all suddenly impossible for this season, how could I even mentally frame my goals and purpose? I had to return to a few years back, when I chose to go the direction I went because I believed it would glorify God the most. Sure, I no longer could do what I thought would glorify God most, but if all that matters is glorifying God, I can still do that. My purpose isn’t as different as I thought it was.
3) When I’m on the right path, I’ll see the signs. There were so many endorphins in my head every time I saw a little yellow circle on a tree. I could’ve cried tears of joy. Add in matching the map to the path, and I was on cloud nine. It reminded me that sometimes in life, there are a lot of dependable confirmations when I go the right direction. It feels wonderful. This doesn’t mean that a way can’t seem right and be wrong, but I’m not talking about finding signs that seem right. I’m talking about finding signs that objectively are right, to the best of our perception of objectivity.
Excuse me as I go figure out how to apply all this to my daily life. I will definitely be sorting out the difference between what’s intuitively right and what’s objectively right, because man, my intuition can get me in trouble. I also need to really commit to what I believe are yellow signs, and even more than that, stop questioning the Sign Maker. (That is God, if you’re wondering. Oof, and trusting God is harder than I feel it should be…)
So, yes, off to do that! I hope everyone who gets this far feels God’s wonderful guidance in their lives, and that you know you will make it through whatever forest path you’re on. If you’re clinging to God, He doesn’t let anyone slip through His fingers. Amen?!?! Amen. 🙂