Have you ever gone hiking in an unfamiliar area?
I enjoy hiking, I enjoy being out in the woods, smelling the smells of nature, listening to the creatures as they scurry away from my approach. I enjoy the exercise and I enjoy the adventure. Hiking is one of my preferred pass times.
Growing up in Canada we learned some important rules about hiking and being out in the woods. Rules that were meant to save our lives. The area we lived in was beautiful and the woods were full of adventure and peril. As children we would go out on the familiar paths winding our way through the trees hoping to see a bear or a moose, yet at the same time, terrified that we might. These paths were well traveled and relatively safe. However, there were many smaller trails (that later I learned were deer trails) that crossed over our safe wide path. Over the years the temptation to step on these smaller trails became too much and on one occasion we ventured off the safety and surety of the well traveled passage and onto a small winding trail that led off deeper into the woods.
There were multiple reasons why this was foolish, the least of which was the potential to get lost in the unfamiliar surroundings. But off we went anyway, at first it was exciting and we felt brave. The deeper we went into the woods, the denser the trees became and the quieter the forest seemed. I am not sure which one of us whispered first but I distinctly remember us discussing that it was time we go back.
Relieved we turned and for a moment could not see the path on which we had been traveling. You see, as we traveled further from the safety of the trail we should have been on, the ground became covered in underbrush and though we had no trouble pushing through it, we had likely wondered off the deer trail and even further from where we should have been.
Moose Hair, or Old Man’s Beard is a nickname for a type of lichen that hangs from the trees in the area we lived, and every outdoorsy kid in western Canada knows that it grows on the north side of the tree. (it is also edible in a pinch). Using the moss on the trees to guide us we worked our way back in the direction we thought we should be going. Almost without warning we stepped out onto a wide open area that extended up toward the mountain, for a moment we thought we had found the main trail again and we were relieved. But looking down we realized it wasn’t a trail at all but a clearing about the length of a football field. We had never seen this spot before, but through the trees we could see the town in the distance. At least we knew we were on the right side of the mountain.
Unsure what to do we stood quietly, each of us surveying the area looking for a route home. We decided on down. Moments after we stepped back into the shade of the forest we were shocked into stillness by the sight of two medium size black bear no more than twenty meters from us. I am pretty sure neither one of us breathed for at least five minutes as the bear meandered their way through the forest unaware, or perhaps uncaring that we were there.
The sight of the bear caused us to go another route and we made it back to the safety of the town trail without further incident. That day two eleven-year old’s learned a very important lesson about listening to instruction and the warnings given by those in authority.
Scripture gives us the map and clearly instructs us on the path we should be taking. Just as my friend and I had been warned repeatedly about the dangers of straying off the established hiking trails, the Lord gives us warnings throughout the Bible, instructing us on how to separate ourselves from the dangers of the world and from the underbrush that would snare us and affect our walk.
It is so easy to think we know what is best, to want a little more adventure, to look at the things that are not pleasing to the Lord, but seem so innocent, and take a step off the path that the Lord has safely laid out for us. Once off that path the potential to get lost and continue to stray is a very true and sad reality. The Lord won’t leave you there, He has given us the map to come back to Him if we just seek Him.
Surround yourself with others who’s journey is for the Lord and you will find that the lure of the world will be much easier to resist.
Today’s Truth: Step fully on the path that God has for your life and you will find peace.