I wrote a while back about the busy culture in life (see Busy Is Not An Honor Badge) Since then, life has continued to be full. Full of teenage milestones like driving, sweet sixteen parties, and high school graduation. Full of ministry opportunities including another class, new events, running a half marathon to raise money for clean water, and reaching children and families in new ways. It’s also been a season of deep hurt and new beginnings.
I have been intentional about looking up from the busy to make sure I’m present in the moments.
Over the past few months I’ve also been out on the trails hiking and running. It’s sort of my therapy time. Time to process all the junk in my head. Time to talk with God. Time to empty out my hurts and disappointments so He can fill me with His joy.
A few weeks ago I was hiking up a mountain trail with a friend. Conversations had lead my head to recall a frustrating situation. I was lost in my thoughts and could feel my anger rising. I kept my head down on the steep section of trail, deep in thought, one foot in front of the other, focused on the step right in front of me. I stepped over the logs that went across the trail just as I had done earlier in the path. I trudged forward, completely in my own angry little world.
Then my friend’s voice behind me gently said, “Hey. Where ya goin’?” I looked up from my tormented path to realize I wasn’t on the path at all. I was so frustrated and wrapped up in my own thoughts I didn’t even realize I was off the trail. I looked back, completely bewildered, to very clearly see the switchback to the left. Clearly. The path was clearly there. In my oblivion I had clearly missed it. Clearly.
How many times in life do we keep our heads down, focused on our own private world, and fail to recognize what is happening around us? The trail was clearly there and I so clearly missed it. How many times have I tried to do things my own way and completely missed the path that was marked out for me from the beginning??
My other recent trail experience had me on a wide path I run on along the lake. All. The. Time. The past few months I’ve been running on it at least three times a week. On this day it was rainy and miserable out but I was getting in my 9 miles with my team. Again, my head was full, I was in my own space, in my own world. But something caught my eye.
I thought I saw some animals by the waterfront. The closer I got I realized they were coyotes. I stopped above them on the trail. Maybe they were dogs. Nope. Coyotes. Another runner was coming up the wet trail and I motioned to him to see the coyotes too. Coyotes shouldn’t be on our trail! He pulled out his earbuds as he sort of kept running and said, “Oh no, they’re fake. They’re out there to scare the birds away. They’ve been there a long time.”
I can’t even begin to describe how that one moment made my head spin. It was like I caught my breath and had a huge chiropractic adjustment on my soul. In that one moment things I knew no longer made sense and things I didn’t know just did.
How could I have been running this trail and missed this? They were so clearly right there. And now that I see them, how did I not recognize them as fake. Not real. False. How have I been moving through life so focused on things that don’t have value, that aren’t real, that have been false?
How many times have I missed the true work of God around me?
I may not ever know the answer to that question. Maybe He was giving me blinders at times to keep me focused on the path He had ahead of me. Maybe not.
I know that right now He’s reminding me to look up. Look up to Him and trust Him. Look forward on the path and see Him looking back at me. Look up and see all that He’s placing around me. Look up and keep moving forward in the direction He’s leading me. Look up and appreciate that one moment on the trail and how it’s continuing to change my path forward. Look up and appreciate the laughter, smiles, joy, and adventure of this life.
“For I know the plans I have for you…when you seek me with all your heart.”