This past weekend my family embarked on a spontaneous excursion to Interstate State Park. It was a gorgeous, 70-degree October day in Minnesota. The sun was shining bright in the blue cloud-streaked sky. Red, orange and yellow leaves were just starting to dot the dominantly green landscape.
My husband, Chad, and I agreed that we couldn’t waste this opportunity to get out and explore with our three kids. After-all, picture perfect autumn days can be sporadic in the land of 10,000 snow-fLAKES
So we packed our little crew into our mini-van and drove the 52 miles to get to Taylor’s Falls Minnesota.
Once we arrived, we quickly unloaded the van and grabbed our back-pack filled with water-bottles and cheesy Pringles (because you can’t go tramping through the woods without sustenance for the journey!) At that point, Chad and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk across the bridge that connects Minnesota and Wisconsin.
As we made our way over the bridge, our boys were brimming with excitement. They practically bounced the whole way across, pausing for just a moment to look at the raging river rapids flowing below. My three year-old daughter wasn’t quite so confident about our little trek into Cheese-head territory. She clung tightly to my body until my feet were firmly planted on Wisconsin soil.
Once she felt secure, however, she wiggled out of my arms and was ready to join her big brothers on a hike into the great unknown. We followed a well-worn foot path towards the bluffs that border the Saint Croix River. My husband took the lead, followed by our three energetic kiddos, and I brought up the rear.
The boys loved climbing the big rocks and trying to get as close to the edge of the cliffs as we would allow. My daughter loved trying to keep up with her big brothers. My husband enjoyed being a “big kid” himself, as he jumped from rock to rock. And I tried my best to keep my mommy anxiety at bay, to embrace the beauty around me and to enjoy the magnificence of this family memory we were creating.
For the majority of our hike, we stayed on well-marked trails. But at one point on our little jaunt through the woods, we found ourselves far off the beaten path. In fact, I’m pretty sure we were blazing our own trail through the forest, and it wasn’t easy! We had to climb up steep rocks and over moss-covered tree roots. There were a few bumps and scratches and tears along the way. At one point, Chad and I had to lift and carry our youngest children over natural obstacles that were just too much for them to handle on their own.
Throughout the entire hike, but especially in those moments, I was thankful for my husband’s willingness to lead.
There were definitely times on our family adventure when the kids would run ahead of us on the trail, or I would find myself at the head of our little family pack. But for the most part, my husband was our guide. He was more familiar with the park and more confident in that role. If the kids got too far ahead, he would call them back to himself. He allowed them to climb and explore, but it was always within his protective sight.
It was a pleasure to witness the strength and care that he displayed for our children as he helped them navigate the easy-going and difficult portions of our journey.
In fact, it reminded me a lot of our Heavenly Father and how He leads and cares for each one of us.
You see, I believe that God is the ultimate guide. And He has invited us to come follow Him, on the journey of a life-time. He calls us into an epic adventure of personal transformation, unconditional love, irrevocable grace and unwavering acceptance.
It’s the offer to live in and live out the very plans and purposes that He, the Creator, had in mind for us when he “knit us together in our mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139).
The God of the Universe calls us into intimate relationship with himself.
And if we are willing to follow Him, the Bible says, He will lead us in paths of righteousness, truth, wisdom, and loving-kindness, etc. (See Proverbs 4:11-12, Psalm 25:5-6,9, Psalm 23:3).
Like any good adventure, the Christian life is a journey filled with ups and downs, unexpected twists and turns, moments of uncertainty and excitement. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth the risk.
The best part? No matter how far we wander off the path, He is always there to call us back to himself. There is no guarantee that we won’t end up with some bumps, and bruises and tears along the way, but we can be confident in the fact that we will ALWAYS be within His protective sight. And when we find ourselves in those difficult places where the obstacles seem to be too much for us to handle on our own, we are not without hope. Our God is Able to lift us up and carry us through. All we need to do is ask.
I am so thankful for the wonderful family outing that I got to experience this past weekend. It was truly a joy and a gift. I’m glad my kids could experience the wonder that comes from exploring the beautiful world around them. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. But as perfect as it was, it absolutely pales in comparison to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Nothing. I mean NOTHING, can compare to that!
Thank you Jesus, for calling me your own, and taking me on the adventure of a life-time. You are simply amazing and nothing in this life compares to you. Please bless each person who reads this blog today. Help each of us to “know your ways… teach us your paths, lead us in your truth… for you are the God of our salvation” (Psalm 25:5-6a) Amen.