Something as simple as a walk in different surroundings caused me to reflect on the journey of life.
I left our campsite and headed to the wide, paved walkway I’d taken the previous day. This was a safe, predictable route, and I had confidence in where I was and how to find my way.
Set on a slight rise, I was able to have a good view of my surroundings. Off to one side I could see streets and houses. On the other was a river which disappeared into a forested area.
My goal was not a destination, but exercise and enjoyment. Was predictable was enough or did I want more?
I made a decision and headed for the trees. On the heels of that decision came another. Before me were several paths, leading in different directions. Which one should I choose?
Since the area was unfamiliar, I chose the one running parallel to the one I’d come from. With the paved walkway in sight, I wouldn’t get disoriented or lost.
I thought of a sign I’d seen earlier that said Adventure Awaits. What kind of adventure did I want this morning? Was it one to keep me feeling safe and secure or one to help me experience something new?
More choices of paths presented themselves. I decided to explore the unknown and ventured deeper into the woods.
My first obstacle came in the form of a large tree, fallen across my path. I could turn back, find a way around it, or climb over. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I chose the latter.
The next bend caused me to catch my breath in awe. Silvery green leaves glimmered on both sides and in front of me. I couldn’t even see the path ahead until I moved forward. This beauty would have been missed if I’d turned back at the first challenge I faced.
After a few twists and turns, I came to a steep hill. Could I climb it? Yes, but it would take me back to the main walkway and I hadn’t finished exploring. I turned and headed in the opposite direction.
Every fork in the path (and they were frequent), caused me to make another decision. So many options were available. I followed my instincts, knowing if it didn’t work out, I could go back and alter my route.
A clearing ahead led me to a large, flat area beside the river. I took time to savor the vision of trees from the opposite bank, reflected in the calm, crystal clear water. My body and mind refreshed; I followed the river until I reached the bank taking me back to the main walkway.
As I returned to my campsite, I reflected on the times I’ve struggled over which path my life should take. Some have given me the security of familiarity. Others have taken me over more scenic routes. There are also the ones that provided challenges, thrills and excitement. Often, these paths intersected at unexpected places.
Every path I’ve taken, even the ones I thought were mistakes, have led me to where and who I am today. They all served a purpose. I am aware that in order to keep moving forward, there will be more decisions ahead. It’s my choice to either make safe, predictable ones or explore new possibilities.
I was excited. We were staying in an RV park in Arizona and every lot had a fruit tree in front. There was an assortment of orange, lemon and grapefruit trees.
I had never picked and eaten fresh citrus fruit before and could hardly wait.
Under one tree we saw a box labelled Help Yourself and chose a large lemon. That evening I placed a slice of lemon in a mug filled with hot water. One sip was all I needed before gagging. It was terrible.
Maybe I’d have better luck with an orange. The one I could easily reach looked good but didn’t feel quite ripe so I stretched my arm deeper into the tree. The jagged interior branches scratched me and drew blood. I thought my prize would be worth the sacrifice but was mistaken. This fruit was dry and tasteless.
Sometimes life is like this experience. I reach for something that looks appealing only to end up injured and disappointed. Things are not always what they appear on the surface.
For the fruit, I asked a neighbour what trees I should pick from. Seeking and following that advice made all the difference in being able to enjoy juicy oranges and grapefruit.
A myriad of choices are before me daily. Picking the right one can be a challenge. Outside appearance does not give me enough information. I can’t see into the heart of the situation but know someone who can. My best option is always to pray and ask God for wisdom. When I do, my life transforms from dry and bitter to one that is fresh and sweet.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)
After attending an aquafit class for several years I know where to stand in the pool to get maximum benefit from the workout.
In the past few months the class has grown significantly and I’ve been arriving earlier to ensure I get my chosen spot in the crowded pool.
One of the new attendees has claimed a spot slightly in front of me. This would be fine if she didn’t splash so much while exercising. I don’t like water splashed in my face and this has now become a regular occurrence.
One day I was getting frustrated with the amount of water flying at me when I had a thought that forced me to re-evaluate my attitude. I was the one responsible for my own experience.
There was a clear choice to be made. I could move to another location which would then force others to adjust their position. This didn’t seem right. I could ask the splasher to be more careful. This would impact her experience and I didn’t want to do that. Or, I could stay where I was and do my best to disregard the splashing. I chose to adjust my attitude rather than my physical location. After all, the goal of exercise was not to keep me comfortable!
In the scheme of things, this was a small price to pay. I gave up a little of my comfort for the greater good of several others.
Jesus gave up not only his comfort but his very life for the benefit of all who would follow him. He knew what torture lay ahead of him, yet said he would do God’s will and not his own. His attitude was one of loving sacrifice.
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42 NLT)
I was thoroughly entertained as I sat at the table eating breakfast. We have a small mountain ash tree in our backyard and I could see a bird feasting on the berries.
It should have been easy for this bird to sit on one branch and eat from one cluster of berries before moving to the next branch. Instead it flitted from branch to branch, sampling berries from many areas of the tree.
After eating from a few spots it would fly into a neighbouring yard only to return moments later. They had no trees with berries so it was back to feast on ours once again. This pattern was repeated numerous times.
As I watched in fascination I thought of how this related to my life. Many times what I need is right within my reach. Instead of enjoying this, I flit around needing to sample everything there is to offer. If I stay in one spot, I may miss something better in another.
At times like this I need to remember to place my life in the care of the Lord. The Bible promises that when I ask God, he will give me wisdom to know what to do. He knows what is best for me and is always there to offer guidance.
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)