Sunday morning my sister and I decided to do a short hike in the early morning hours. Okay, so it was 7:30. That seemed early!
The hike we selected was not long, but was said to be quite steep in places, so we decided to take two cars and park one at the top and go to the bottom to begin the hike. Armed with enthusiasm, we hit the trail with gusto.
Hiking is a great opportunity to talk and neither of us were particularly concerned about choosing the right path. We assumed there was just one and it would be obvious. The first fork in the road was not far into the hike and said “Hikers Only” with an arrow to the correct path. Well, we were hikers, so we followed the arrow up a narrow, steep path, even though the path we didn’t choose was much wider and seemed to meander lazily off in the other direction.
The first bit of the hike was quite strenuous so spotting a bench overlooking the valley was a welcome sight. We detoured just a bit to enjoy the lookout and then turned back to the hike. Now we had a decision to make. My sister pulled out the trail map and we tried to make sense of all the little dotted lines and landmarks. Certain we were armed with good information, we chose a trail and continued walking.
Again, this was a narrow little trail for “hikers only” that meandered down into a little valley and up again on the other side. It was quite pleasant. Soon we encountered another bench and more trail options. About this time, we noticed trail markers inconspiciously placed on the trees. We were attempting to follow the red trail and we noticed red markers on the trees to the right. So we went that direction. Now the trail was wide and mostly downhill. It was a bit puzzling as we were trying to get to the top of the hill. But talking, and our certainty, kept us going.
About this time, another hiker came along. We decided to ask directions. To get to the top of the park and the visitor center, we needed to go back the way we had come and continue past the bench. So, we turned around. Now the trail was an uphill grade. The portion we had just come down so easily, became quite challenging. Returning to the bench, we discovered we were only five minutes from the parking lot when we took the downhill path.
Later that evening, we looked over the trail map again. The path we wanted to take was the wide path we had ignored in the morning. The signs that warned “hikers only” were to indicate paths meant for humans, not horses.
I wonder how much longer our hike was because we didn’t understand the signage, we didn’t read the map right, we were distracted by conversation and didn’t notice the trail markers.
It’s easy in life to ignore the most obvious signs pointing me to good and pleasant outcomes. I have the Word to guide me – but sometimes I don’t read it until I am in trouble. There are signs along the trail, but I don’t see them because I am distracted. I don’t question the terrain, because I assume it is the right way. Recently, I realized I made choices in the past because I believed the hardest way must be the right way. In retrospect, the hardest way didn’t align with the truth of the God’s Word.
105Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.Psalm 119:105
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3:5-6
Are you wandering through life without direction? Does the way seem long and difficult? Why not stop at the bench, take a look at the map (God’s Word) and see if there is a different way. I think you might be surprised how peaceful the journey can be.