Straight Paths

When I was a young girl, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to explore the ravine behind my best friend’s house. She had a huge backyard filled with what seemed like an endless forest of trees.  We spent a lot of time building forts, eating sticky peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and navigating the trails that wound through the woods.

The main avenue into her woods was a wide and easy to follow trail that had been landscaped into the property. It was a large U shaped path that started on one side of the backyard and if you followed it completely around, would bring you right back to the grassy lawn behind the house.

However, if you veered off that main trail, there were a few narrow routes that could be explored. Years of little feet trudging across the forest floor had created these dirt-packed footpaths that led into the depths of the ravine.  One track even brought us to the edge of the rocky slope along the property line.

Playing in the woods provided hours of imagination-filled fun. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there were some unpleasant moments too.  From time to time there were scrapes, and scratches, bruises and nasty encounters with poison ivy.  In almost every case, deviating from the well-beaten trail was to blame.

It’s interesting how the same principle still applies to my life today. How many times have I experienced discomfort or maybe even outright pain because I have strayed from what is really the best path for me?

How often have my impulsive choices based on the allure and emotions of the moment left me feeling empty and dissatisfied?

I can’t count how many times I have foolishly believed that I can do all things through my own intellect and might, instead of relying on God’s wisdom and strength. The end result is never quite the triumph that I expected or hoped for.

Yet these sometimes unpleasant experiences have helped to shape and point me to the truth found in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Trust in the Lord.

This doesn’t mean that the journey will always be easy. There may be some bumps or curves along the way.  But if I am willing to submit my will and my heart’s desires to the LORD, I can be confident that He will give me the ability and the strength to successfully navigate whatever path lies ahead.

“Dear Lord, help me to trust you in my everyday decisions, big and small. Help me to seek your counsel first, before I jump to my own conclusions.  Guide my thoughts and my steps.  Lead me in paths of righteousness, for your name sake.  Amen.

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