Summer is a great time for hiking! Pack your bug spray and plenty of water and thousands of trails are waiting for you to explore them! We are fortunate to live in the Shenandoah Valley, which offers a multitude of such potential adventures.
Many of the trails in the National Forest are marked with paint on trees or rocks for hikers to follow. Even though some sections are well worn and hard to miss, others are less obvious causing hikers to get confused, turned around, or badly lost.
As hikers trek along, they are constantly looking for the next marking, or blaze. Most are spaced so that you can spot the next one as soon as you pass the last. Even though hikers can’t see the whole trail at its head, as they make their way along, guidance is provided as needed.
Life is usually like this. From our current location, we can’t see very far into the future. We don’t know what will happen in 30 days much less 30 years. But if we go as far as we can see today, God gradually reveals the next segment of our trail for us.
When students graduate from high school, many head to college. Although they can’t see their commencement, they chose a major and pursue a certain degree only to encounter something along the way better suited to their gifts and abilities. As such, they travel along this new phase of trail until God reveals something else or until they graduate.
After college comes work. Once again, at the beginning of a person’s career, she can’t see retirement nor the possible job changes that may occur between now and then. But as she begins, she covers territory and moves along until God reveals the next part of her journey. Decisions regarding marriage, family, and homes also fit this analogy.
The important thing is to keep moving. If we sit down and wait for the next blaze to magically appear, it usually won’t. We must be moving forward in order to see it. Author and speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Go as far as you can see and then you can see farther.”
If we wander off the trail, we must return to wherever we left in order to find God’s will. There are times when we move by faith going on the last blaze we saw. Sometimes it seems like forever before we find the next marker, but eventually it appears. And for those times when we get just plain lost, thankfully, we have a heavenly finder who can guide us back to the right path.
At times, multiple trails might appear before us requiring us to consult our maps, pray earnestly and search our souls. Although U.S. Forest Service pamphlets tell us distances and destinations, life is a bit different. It behooves every hiker to find out as much about their trail beforehand as possible.
We should certainly attempt to determine our trail’s outcome. Although we may not always be able to know the final destination at the outset, we should gather as much information as possible to try to discern it. Various college majors lead to specific careers. Different careers lead to different lifestyles. And so forth. In Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” he wisely looked down both options as far he could. We should do the same.
The best advice for trekking through life is to consult the guide. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and to not lean on our own understanding. In all our ways we should acknowledge him, and he will direct our paths. We should constantly watch for God’s blazes. Sometimes they will be obvious from Scripture. Other times, they will show up as new opportunities or they might be revealed by friends or family.
As we enjoy some hikes this summer, may this pleasant recreation remind us of our journey through life and to keep our eyes out for God’s leading. His ways are always best. Blessings, George