About an hour from here there’s a nature park we like to go to. It’s on a thin piece of land that stretches out into the Bay of Fundy. It’s not far away and it’s free which are always reasons for a place to be popular in our family.
There’s a road around the park and marked trails to walks along, so there are three ways to get around the park – drive, walk along the road, or take the trails. Some people drive and stop at the look out points along the way; some power walk along the road; some walk along one or more of the colour coded trails.
On our last visit we drove out to a trail we hadn’t taken before. We walked through woods filled with bright green, magical looking moss, along pebbled beaches, clambered on rocky outcrops, walked on boardwalks over bogs, and tried not to trip on the roots and rocks that stick out of the ground in other places. We paused to enjoy the views, skimmed stones on the shoreline, and kept our eyes peeled for the wildlife. We went wrong a couple of times and had to re-trace our steps to find the trail again. It struck me how much you miss if you drive or stick to the wide road.
As we entered one of the trails I heard a whisper in my heart,
Will you take the trail with me? Will you come on the adventure? Will you take the risks with me?
My first response to that still, small voice was, ‘Haven’t I done that already?’ But, I know there’s more – there’s more adventure, there are other trails to take, there are greater things to do with Him, there’s more to know of Him.
I like comfort as much as the next person. A walk along a trail in bright sunshine is one thing. When the rain is pouring and the wind is blowing it’s quite another. When my boots are muddy and slip, or the path is rough, and long, and I’m longing to see the next marker to know I’m on the right track, it’s tougher. The romance of an adventure is attractive, the reality is perseverance along many paths that may seem unrewarding and just plain hard. On a day like that who would choose the trail?
Since that walk I’ve gone through a darker time than I have for a long while – deep, dark woods. I have not been okay and skipping along the trail. I’ve been asking God for the next marker, because at times I’m not seeing the trail ahead.
Thankfully, it’s not a trail I walk alone, though it is tempting to do so – to struggle with those depressing feelings and not admit weakness. I need others and especially my church family more than ever at these times. We walk the trail, following Jesus together, knowing that He gives us His power to do all He asks.
It’s so tempting for us to stick to the predictable wide road, to like the ease, to do the same familiar walk, to avoid risk. To let go and trust, to follow and tread the new paths, knowing it will mean change and discomfort is the challenge…
…but, oh the rewards. The joy, the fun, the mountaintop experiences to match the deepest valleys, and if it means others get to come along on this adventure and know the hope I have – I’ll take it.