Friday, June 17, 2011

He Leadeth Me

Throughout the years, I have learned that I am a very "visual" person. When I am learning something, I have to see it in order for it to truly make sense. I am appreciative of the times in which God gives me visuals to understand His word or a concept. However, there are times where I am directly involved in that "divine visual". I had such an experience a few days ago; a visual and lesson that God gave me, and it will stick with me for the rest of my life.

"And She's Off..."
It was a cool, June evening around 8:00, and I decided that the best way to spend my time at that moment would be to go on a long, hard walk. Events at work had stirred up some pretty intense emotions within me, so I was sure that "pounding the pavement" would shake the bad day right off. I laced up my shoes, and took off on a walking path/bike trail near by my apartment. I had walked it one other time with a friend, and was quite confident that I knew the way. The trail started by the library, and then ended right back in the same place, clocking in about 1 mile. As I walked I lifted up prayers to my Father, telling Him all the things that were on my heart. In the silence of the walk, I began to realize the beauty of the environment. Lush green trees, a trickling creek and the seranading of birds and frogs put my heart at ease as I felt the "bad day" fall right off of me.

A Fork in the Road
About half way through my journey, I came to a fork in the road. To my left was an unpaved path, and to my right was a paved path. My gut told me that I wanted to turn left, so I followed it, only to have it take me out to a road in town. "This can't be it!", I thought to myself. "I know that the path that we took brought us right back to the library." So I stubbornly retraced my steps, and took the other path. For the first hour, it seemed quite promising. A couple joggers passed by me, and the scenery was certainly more beautiful. Every time I hit a corner, I would think to myself "Surely this is the end of the pavement!". But after awhile, I realized that it was getting dark, and there seemed to be no end in sight. But I kept on walking, knowing that at some point this trail was going to end and bring me to my destination.

"And she's officially lost..."
As the walk grew more and more hopeless, the sky began to get dark. Despite this fact, the Lord provided in so many ways. My cell phone had full coverage, the battery lasted as long as I needed it to and there was a beautiful, bright full moon to light my path. There came a point where I knew I had to turn around, because I had no idea where I was. I knew that it would be safer to retrace my steps then to risk moving further and further to a destination that I wasn't sure was at the end of my path.
At this point, I had been walking for close to 3 hours. I was thirsty, hungry and my poor short legs were getting pretty tired. But I knew that I had a choice; and that choice was to keep moving forward, or to stop in fear. As I was presented with this choice, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear "Sarah, in order for me to direct you, you must first take a step...any step will do." It was in that moment that I realized how often I have allowed fear to prevent me from moving forward in life. In addition to this truth, I was reminded of how many times I have traveled on a path that I thought was taking me to a certain destination, but it ended up leading me to a place of uncertainty and sometimes pain. Just as my misguided journey in the woods was not a intended, it certainly wasn't a waste of time. It was through that "mistake" that the Lord impressed upon me truths that my heart needed to hear. 

  Additional Truths Learned From the Wayward Wanderer

  • We are all on a journey, filled with beautiful and dark times. It is how we choose to walk our path that determines the experience.
  • All of us will eventually come to "the fork in the road", whether it be in regards to a relationship, an attitude, a lifestyle or career change. One may lead to peace and one may lead to distruction, but God is our guide. He will always lead us to exactly where we need to be, at exactly the right time. Trust Him. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."-Proverbs 16:9
  • In order for the Lord to guide us, we must take a step forward. How can we be led if we won't move?
  • In times of uncertainty in our lives, we mustn't give into fear of the unknown, but rather embrace the journey, hanging tight to the truth that we are not alone.
  • Just because a path is paved and smooth, doesn't mean it is the right path to take. Often it is the narrow, rough graveled path that we must journey on.
My humble prayer is that my mishapped journey will speak to your heart, and serve as a bit of extra trail mix to sustain you while you walk your path. May you trust in God as your only guide, a God capable of seeing what is ahead of you, walking behind you and beside you, all at the same time.

~In closing, I would like to leave you with the lyrics of the hymn, "He Leadeth Me"~

1. He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, he leadeth me,
by his own hand he leadeth me;
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.
2. Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
by waters still, o'er troubled sea,
still 'tis his hand that leadeth me.
3. Lord, I would place my hand in thine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since 'tis my God that leadeth me.
4. And when my task on earth is done,
when by thy grace the victory's won,
e'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Boxes of Change

Why is it that change often brings about a thorough cleaning? When a person moves to a new location, they spend ample time going through boxes, dividing things into endless piles of "keep, give away, and throw away". In order for us to move forward into the new, we often times need to leave behind the old. But, before we leave behind the old, we must take time to evaluate if the "old" still has a use and a purpose. Imagine if we carried along every single physical item with us, throughout our whole lives. Many of us would need an entire house to hold all of those items. Think about all of those boxes that you have in a basement, attic or storage unit that contain items that aren't used on a regular basis. This may be because the items are of some sentimental value, are "useful" ( or at least used to be), or were so expensive to purchase, that there has to be some purpose for it!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to dive into such a project, as my mother will be moving this summer. As I sorted through all of those boxes, I found myself experiencing a range of emotions I wasn't ready for. As I paged through my sign language interpreting work books from college, I looked at my mom for an approving response to keep them. "No Sarah," she said. "That was then, this is now." It felt like a mock funeral as I threw those books and tapes in the garbage, a physical symbol that that part of my life was only apart of the journey that I'm on now.
A little bit later I came across some baby pictures, my "Cambodia Box" with all the memorabilia from that adventure, and the seven prayer journals that I have filled throughout my life. In a period of 2 hours, I saw almost my entire life laid out in boxes. Goals that I had set, and never achieved ( AKA exercise DVDs and equipment), poems I had written, photographs of experiences that I had, letters from people who have gone in and out of my life, along side a pair of earrings that I forgot I owned. As I pouted at my "give away" pile, my mother cheerfully stated "Sarah, just think of the person who will find that at Good Will! They will be so excited!". With a slight attitude, I put it back in the box, knowing full well that wonderful feeling of finding a beautiful bargain.
Our lives are filled with so much change. As I reminisced about all the changes that had taken place in my life, I was reminded of the simple yet profound truth that my relationship with Jesus Christ is the only steady, unchanging thing in my life. So often I would place value on the silliest things in this world, thinking that hanging onto those things was a means of hanging onto something more significant. In order for us to move forward in life, we must "clean house" in our lives; Sometimes this can even mean people and relationships, and that is the hardest type of "cleaning" there is.
Jesus Christ is the only person who has seen me through every single season of my life. He was along side me when I was traveling across the country, dealing with the pain of divorced parents and an absent father, "trekking out" on my own and discovering my career path. He has formed dreams in my heart, and given me the ability and knowledge to know how to pursue those dreams. Despite the fact that I have felt so alone in many of my life experiences, the truth is, He has been beside me the whole time. How I cling to this truth.
There is a popular hymn called "I Need Thee Every Hour" that has been the song of my heart.
"I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like thine, can peace afford. I need thee, oh I need thee; every hour I need thee, oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee."
May the truth of His presence in your life give you the strength to take that next step in your personal journey. May you take the time to see God's fingerprints on your life. If you are lonely, may the Lord reveal to you in a truly personal way that you are never alone. May the winds of change cause you to hang onto the steadiness of your unchanging Savior, but may He also give you the grace to be tossed and turned about, knowing that wherever you land He will guide you.