Today was a beautiful Autumn Saturday, and we hadn't hiked for about a month, so I took the dogs in the woods. What started out as a hike quickly turned into simply a walk in the woods. Because these poor dogs have been cooped up for so long, they were like puppies! They just couldn't decide which smell to smell first! Even though we'd been on this trail numerous times, it was as if it was their first time! Everything was new and exciting! As orange leaves swirled their way to the ground, Foxy leaped into the air to catch them, as if she'd forgotten that this happens every year. Psycho Dog actually made me laugh at her playfulness, and I decided that we all needed to slow down! An intense physical hike was not needed; what was needed was just a walk in the woods.
I saw the lesson, or lessons, immediately. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to laugh...a time to dance...a time to refrain...(Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4). Even Foxy, who is a "working dog" understood that there is a time to play, a time to "refrain"-to rest from our labors! I needed to do the same. Not everything has to be work! Even the mundane can be transformed into something new when we look at it as if it is the first time! (two lessons right away!)
At the next "intersection" of trails, instead of continuing the way we usually go, I decided to follow the "blue" trail markers. It was a little hard to see the trail because of all the leaves on the ground, but if I looked up, there were blue trail markers clearly displayed on the trees. Suddenly, we came to a huge obstacle-a downed tree, or trees, as it appeared--right in the path. I looked around for the trail markers and saw right there in the middle of the obstacle, a big blue square. Really? Well, we'd hiked after Superstorm Sandy and encountered obstacles just like these at just about every turn, so this wasn't going to deter us.
Since I am the Pack Leader, I went first. I shimmied and ducked and finally got to a place where I had to climb onto the tree in order to get over it. I managed without too much difficulty. Foxy, with some encouragement, jumped up and over. Lucy, however, was hesitant. She just didn't have the confidence. She tried, but held back. I kept encouraging her, "Come on, you can do it!" Because I'm the "Boss," and she trusts me, she finally leaped onto the log, but her legs were shaking and her feet unsteady. Eventually, with my coaxing, she overcame her obstacle. Here we are on the other side. That dark spot right behind Lucy's ear is a huge hole. We had to be careful not to fall into the hole once we got to the other side!Again, I saw the lesson. As we travel with God, sometimes our path becomes cluttered with leaves (our "stuff") and we start to lose the way. When we focus on the leaves (stuff) and the fact that we can't find the way, it's easy to panic. The remedy is to simply look up. The way is clearly marked on the trees. God gives us insight as we walk...His Word directs us...Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight (Ps 119:35)...a man's steps are directed by the Lord (Pr 20:24). The Bible is our trail marker.
Obstacles will get in our way-even when we are walking in what we think or we know is His will. We, like Lucy, may panic. Maybe we feel unsure of our footing, like if we take a leap of faith, we'll fall off or worse, fall into a pit. We need to trust that our "Pack Leader" will not make us do anything that will cause us harm. For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you...(Jer 29:11). Jesus didn't promise that we wouldn't have obstacles. In fact He said, In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). If He has overcome the world, He will help us overcome any and all of our obstacles. We just need to keep going and keep looking up.
Wow! Three lessons in less than an hour! I thought, great, I have three blogs! But I saw very quickly that God wanted to give me one lesson through all three! When we lose our way, when we encounter obstacles, if we realize that there is a time and a season for everything, and we trust in our Pack Leader, we will overcome our obstacles. But only if we look at these things as if they are new. We mustn't say, "Oh, this again! I've been through this before and this is how it always turns out." Take the time to look at the situation as if it was the first time! Like Foxy, rest from your labors; rejoice in that day and leap for joy (Luke 6:23).
Our walk wouldn't have been complete without Psycho Dog taking one last leap... and a snarl at a nice man with a camera passing by. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted!
Blessings Along the Path,
Song of the Day
Through It All (Hillsongs)