Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Walking "Off-Leash" With God

This weekend's hike took us to a little gem not far from our house. Tiger Brook Park seems to be a relatively unknown park in Chester, NJ. I couldn't figure out why. After looking at the trail map, we decided on the red trail, since it was a simple loop. We quickly figured out why it wasn't too popular. The trail was well-marked; it seemed like every other tree had a red trail blaze on it. But the trail itself was hard to find. It was rudimentary at best. We were tempted to turn around, because there didn't seem to be any clearly defined path. But we pressed on. There was, apparently, a beautiful pond somewhere along the "trail."
At one point, the trail completely disappeared and we had to go out to the nearby dirt road and cut back in. I wasn't having fun, but I kept going.

Suddenly, I saw water. It was, indeed, a beautiful pond, where Lucy enjoyed a swim. We encountered one person and a dog, but it was otherwise deserted. We were able to keep Lucy off-leash, a treat for all of us. We'd actually never done that before, because we either had Psycho Dog with us or there have always been people around, and Lucy gets very excited when she encounters other people or dogs. 

Sometimes we walk a path that we've never traveled down before. It may be a path that not a lot of others we know have walked---a difficult path. It may be a change, a step out in ministry, a new job. It may even be the path of Christianity--taking a stand for Christ and what we believe, which may be unpopular. It may seem like we're the only ones who have ever walked this path. We may be tempted to turn back to what's familiar and comfortable. Taking a more well-defined trail is definitely an easier way, and requires little thought. Just stay on the path, "go with the flow." 

Following the trail blazes without a path keeps us attentive and alert-keeps us looking up. 
And look at what we'd miss if we turned back---the beautiful pond in the middle of the woods. If we stay where we're comfortable, if we never seek change, we stay the same. Life becomes rote and boring. We miss out on the adventure, the thrill of finding something new and beautiful.

We enjoyed the pond for awhile but encountered a new problem. No more red trail blazes. We knew this path was a loop, so it had to be somewhere, but we never saw one marker. So, we just decided to walk along the water...and there it was, up ahead. We turned the corner and the trail opened up. Not only did it open up, but there were different colored blazes. We had more choices. But we chose to stick with our original plan-the red trail. 


If we press in, press on---persist and persevere, eventually we will get past the difficulty and reap the benefits of our future opening up. And when we keep our eyes on God, He will bless our obedience and our faithfulness, and we will end up with more choices than we asked for! Yes, there will be obstacles along the way, just like we encountered farther along the trail, but those obstacles don't seem so big anymore when we're walking with God, when we've already walked the most difficult part. They're not insurmountable. They're just obstacles. Annoyances.

And like Lucy, as we are given more freedom to walk "off-leash" with God, we know that it's because He trusts us. We turn around every so often just to make sure our Master is still with us, even though we always know He is. I will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31:8)

If you want true freedom, if you want to walk "off-leash" with God, stay on the path. Obedience leads to righteousness. The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness (1 Sam 26:23).Be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded (2 Chron 15:7)

Blessings Along the Path
Mary

Songs of the Day
The Great Adventure-(Stephen Curtis Chapman)
Press On (Selah)

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