Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Trail Blazes

The sign for a trail's beginning
Another hike day. Lucy and I started out on our usual yellow trail, but I noticed early on, a green trail which ran parallel to the yellow one. I'd never noticed it before, and it piqued my curiosity. The green trail was new; not on the trail maps. I wondered how to get there. 

I followed the yellow trail to the orange one, one I'd taken before. This one is also new and not on the trail maps, so whenever I tried to mark my progress, well...I couldn't. I continued on when I noticed a green trail marker. The trails merged! I didn't know anything about the green trail other than I assumed that it would eventually bring me back to where I started, but I decided to take the challenge. There was plenty of daylight left. I followed it through mud and streams, which Lucy loved! But suddenly, the green trail stopped. Well, now where do I go? I saw a parking lot ahead, one which I recognized, where there was a sign indicating the continuation of the green trail. 
The sign for a trail's ending

Following the green blazes, I came to a fork...both trails had a green blaze! Huh? Now what? I chose one, then changed my mind and took the other. After a little while (soon), I started to feel a bit anxious. I had no idea how long it would take me to get back, and I really didn't know for sure if it would eventually intersect with the trail I started on. Even so, I knew it had to be close. Lucy was enjoying tromping through the water, not a care in her doggie world. Just when I started to get nervous again, I saw a car drive by up above. The road was near, which meant the yellow trail (the one I started on, which runs along the road) must be near. I relaxed, knowing that if I just kept going on the path I was on, I'd reach the intersection. When I did, I was surprised to find that I knew exactly where I was!

Navigating through life is often like navigating trails. We start our day on the path we are familiar with, one that we hopefully enjoy. We are offered choices throughout our day, and we make decisions based on what we are familiar with. But sometimes we want to try something new. That can be exciting, but can also make us feel nervous or anxious. We're venturing into unknown territory. We don't know what the outcome will be. And what if it takes longer than we thought, or is harder than we thought? What if we change our minds in the middle? What if?

Sometimes, we remember to pause and ask God what to do. Which path should I take? But what do you do when God is silent? When you don't get an answer? You trust your instinct. God gives us instinct, our "gut feeling," to guide us, because as much as He wants us to call on Him, His greater desire is that we would learn to "fly on our own." Think of a boss/employee situation. A good boss trains the employee to learn to do the job without constantly asking the boss what to do. Sometimes, you have to just make a decision. If it's the wrong one, you'll learn from your mistake. You may have consequences, but you'll remember it for the next time. 

We can listen to those dreaded "what-ifs?" or we can be like Lucy...just enjoy the Stream of Living Water while we walk the new and unknown path. Sometimes it's muddy, sometimes it's rough...we never quite know what we'll encounter along the way; but if we just keep going, it always brings us back to the familiar. At the end of the day, when we rest our head on our pillow, we can also rest our spirit on our Father's lap, the only place that we can say we truly know exactly where we are. When we stay hooked into Him, He never lets us stray so far that we can't find our way back.

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day
When God is Silent (The Wilds) 

For those of you who would like to venture out to this particular series of trails I found at Jockey Hollow National Park, here's how:

Follow the signs to and park at the Wick Center. Walk up the road till you see the path with the yellow trail blaze (on your right). Follow the yellow trail (toward the Soldier Huts) to the grassy area, about a half mile. Instead of heading up the hill to the Soldier Huts, walk along the brushy area, staying to the right. You'll pick up the orange trail. Follow that till you see the intersection of the green trail. Take the green trail (to your left) to the parking lot, then go right and follow the green blaze again. When you get to the fork, don't go to the left, where it says "Stop B" (whatever that is), but stay to the right. Follow to the NEXT fork. Both ways will intersect back with the yellow trail; the lower one to the right is a little longer and muddier. Total hike is about 3 miles. Enjoy!!!

Jockey Hollow Trail Map (you won't find the orange or green)

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