The trail looked beautiful. A sign clearly marked the beginning of the path. Well-worn gravel and trampled leaves distinguished the area designed for a hike from the rest of the woods. I started off excitedly at a brisk pace, looking ahead to the beauty in front of me.
After a few minutes, the path turned and led into the woods. The trail in the distance was barely distinguishable from the rest of the forest floor. I couldn’t see what was ahead. Was this even the official groomed trail? I was heading into the unknown, on a cold day, with no knowledge of where the path led or what dangers came with it.
Although I kept walking, I had serious hesitations. As I heard a dog bark ahead, watched for snakes in the leaves, and saw nothing but trees ahead I was a little afraid when I thought of all I might be heading toward.
I like to know where I’m going and what to expect along the way.
Unfortunately, neither trails nor life are predictable.
Hebrews 11 talks about the faith of Abraham when he, like us, did not know where the path lead.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8, ESV)
Genesis 12 reveals the Lord told Abram to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house to go to a land the Lord would show him. “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” (Genesis 12:4). Not only did Abram pick up and go on an unknown route to an unknown land promised by the Lord, but he also brought his family with him.
I’ve thought of Abraham often.
He followed the Lord when called.
He trusted God to lead the way, even when the route was completely unknown.
He knew the Lord would be with him.
Often, I think I know the path along which my life will travel. The trail map I dreamed about included school, a job, a family, and a long, happy life with my husband and children living the “American dream.” Like most of you, the path of my life has included many unexpected twists and turns, and the unknown beyond the curve ahead is terrifying if I let my fears run away from me. When I get still, I remember the Lord is trustworthy. No matter how bumpy or uphill my path, if I am following Him the eternal destination is promised.
On my recent hike, I noticed a few things I want to remember when I’m afraid of the scary unknown (which happens pretty much every day by the way!) Maybe these ideas will be helpful to you when your path is hard, and the future seems uncertain. I’m writing these for myself, but also for those of you worried about the world your children are growing up in, where the next mortgage payment will come from, if the illness can be cured, whether your loved one will turn around and come back home, or what the holidays (or even tomorrow) will look like.
We can all be consumed by fear of the future if we let ourselves.
–Put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving toward the end of the trail, even when you are afraid.
-After praying for wisdom and studying the scriptures, follow the path God sets out for you. Remember Abraham. The God who is in control of the universe knows what is ahead for you and can be trusted to keep His promises.
–Stay near the water. When speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus references the concept of living water that quenches the need in us deeper than physical thirst. “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14b) We can draw daily strength from this living water by studying the Bible, praying, and stepping out in obedience, while striving to become more like Him every day.
–Walk with friends who will help you along the way. Be that kind of friend to others. I would never have been brave enough to follow a trail into the woods without a friend by my side. But somehow, when walking and talking with another, I was brave enough to tackle the unknown. My friend pointed out rocks so I wouldn’t trip, and places where it was clear someone before us had slid in the mud. She helped me navigate the trail and avoid pitfalls. Occasionally she called out, “You okay back there?” More importantly, if I had fallen, she was ready with a helping hand to lift me up. I was ready to do the same for her.
At the end of the day, despite the mud, rocks, twists, and turns, the journey was beautiful.
My path has taken a very unexpected turn over the past few years. Y’all, it’s scary to think about the unknown future. And it’s even more terrifying to share my journey with all of you. But I needed help at the beginning of my journey, and I still need help today. So, when I was asked to be vulnerable and share one unexpected part of my story on the Nikki and Julie podcast, I took a deep breath, mustered up every ounce of my courage, and said YES.
If the podcast can help even one of you going through something difficult or prepare one of you to help someone in your life, the risk and vulnerability will have been worth it.
Please take a listen when you have a moment. The podcast is available on Apple and Spotify, along with other podcast platforms.
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Thank you all for your encouragement and kindness! Let me know how I can help you on your journey! Love to you all.