I was recently seeking the Lord for some direction and clarity on a fairly significant life decision I had to make. As my introverted self always has to do, I took a couple of days off to get away for some “me and Jesus” time. I ended up staying at a lake house owned by some close friends, and one day I drove to the local state park to walk and pray.
Initially, the trail at the park was paved and very easy to navigate. But about halfway into my excursion, the trail went from pavement to dirt, and it led down into a forest of trees. While I prefer the comfort and security of a nice paved trail (I know…just call me Survivorwoman), I wasn’t too concerned as I journeyed onto the dirt trail into the woods.
Because I had decided to hike in February, the state park wasn’t very busy. Clarification: there was literally not a single other human being out there. At first, this was a welcome reality…more space for me and Jesus! But as I journeyed deeper and deeper into the woods, I was getting a little unnerved by the fact that I was completely alone.
There were moments while I was walking when I would look down the “trail” ahead of me and couldn’t see a path at all. I would start to worry that once I got up to that point, the trail would just stop, and I would have no idea where to go and would be lost in the middle of the woods. This thought wasn’t the most comforting considering the “NO SERVICE” notification on my cell phone was staring me in the face, and there wasn’t another human in sight.
This pattern happened a few times. I would look ahead, not see a trail, and start to freak out. But it never failed…once I got up to the part that I was so worried about, there would be a path. I just couldn’t see it from my earlier vantage point.
Every time I would look too far ahead and start getting worried, I would literally have to tell myself, “Melanie, stop worrying. There will be a path.” And eventually I realized that if I would just stop trying to look so far ahead, I wouldn’t even be tempted to freak out! So I started telling myself, “Just focus on the next step ahead of you, enjoy the scenery around you, and there will be a path.”
It took me a few times of doing this before it hit me. I stopped dead in my tracks and heard God say kindly, “Yeah…you get it?”
How many times in our lives do we try to look too far ahead, try to see too far down the path, and start freaking out? I can’t imagine how many times I’ve done that only to discover, God is waiting for me just around the corner. The “path” is there. His love and grace and faithfulness walk me through it so I’m not only okay, but I’m actually changed because I got to experience Him in a new way.
The immediate Scripture that popped into my head as I stood there on the trail that day was,
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). I have never read that Scripture the same.
God showed me a lesson that day that I have never forgotten. When I am tempted to worry or freak out about the future, I have to force myself to stop trying to look so far down the path. Because from my vantage point, I can’t see the whole thing. I just need to focus on the step in front of me, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the journey, enjoy HIM, and trust that He will make my path straight. The good news is that I’m trusting in something so much more reliable than a dirt trail in a park; I’m trusting in my almighty, sovereign, ever-faithful, good Father.