Wednesday, March 16
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Years ago I had an opportunity to go to the desert to seek guidance from God.
It wasn't the exactly the Egyptian wilderness of the Desert Fathers of ancient days. It was…well… a California state park, complete with groomed trails, guides, and tourists in Hawaiian shirts and sandals. But ever since my wife Corinne and I had arrived in the Golden State for a much-needed vacation, I had the uncanny sense that I was supposed to take a side trip into the desert. I wondered if God might speak to me in some way—a sort of “burning bush” that might guide my choices at a very confusing crossroads.
I arrived in the park and walked the path, taking in rock formations, the sky, the desert vibe, letting my thoughts percolate. After a while the trail led up a hill and toward the top I could make out a shape like a cross. This is it, I thought. I hiked up the rest of the way full of expectation, senses heightened. Something significant was here.
I clambered up the hill, anticipation growing with every step. I reached the crest, and the vista of the desert land opened up gloriously before me. I approached what turned out to be a cross-shaped sign, and the message came into view:
I laughed at myself and my overblown expectations. It had been posted by the Park Service for the safety of the tourists!
But then I thought further… maybe there’s a message for me here anyway.
I had followed one career path, one chosen ministry, for decades. Recently the terrain had changed significantly, leaving me uncertain how to proceed. For months I had been mulling over the unsettling idea of diverting from the path I had followed for so long. Compounding the angst of the moment, Corinne was now wrestling with some serious health issues. So here at the top of the hill, my encounter with this wooden sign seemed like more than a coincidence. I decided to follow the metaphor with my feet. I stayed on the trail. I hiked back down, and continued further on. The path narrowed, becoming rockier, increasingly dry and desolate, like the surface of the moon. Nothing could grow here. Off in the distance, the trail wound up another hill, far steeper, positively treacherous. I stopped and looked carefully at the scene.
And somewhere inside I sensed God’s voice saying, No matter how narrow and desolate your path toward the future may seem now, no matter how rocky and fraught with dangers,
please…. Stay On The Trail.
And I listened. My spirit resonated.
Several years later, by God’s grace I’m still on the path, staying the course that He has carved out for me, as He continues, step by step, to provide in surprising, unforeseen ways. And my flimsy faith is slowly growing into something that might just survive even when the trail is narrowest and the terrain most rocky.
And, so far as I can see and imagine, as Robert Frost might say…
“…that has made all the difference.”
Good Shepherd, Perfect Guide,
As we travel on, help us see Your navigating hand, Your guidance and provision…the perfection of Your vision. We submit our every hope to You. Align us with Your Spirit, and hear our longing as we ask, O Lord, for wisdom.