Today was a day when the snow should’ve crunched beneath each dropping boot. The still silence should have hung heavily among frosted trees. The fog from each exhaled breath was supposed to inform this hiker of the drop in temperature. It is January. The seasonal calendar states that it is winter; the conditions of this day spoke otherwise. The earth was damp, it’s rich scent rising to meet the atmosphere. Soggy leaves clung to the soil beneath naked trees. Fret-less birds scampered through the dried winter landscape. A family of squirrels played tag as the breezes blew gently through the branches. Today I remained on the winding path that led from one side of the lake to the other, it’s every stretch and curve my guide. There was no fogged breath. The temperature was warm. Apricity fell through the canopy and kissed my bare flesh. Aside from the sound of the rustling leaves, all was quiet and still. All the world hidden behind the forest…all of its noise defeated. In the stillness was His voice; The voice of the Creator…the Designer of all that I was experiencing. And together we strolled through His forest. Nothing compares to meeting with Him within His creation. Nothing brings more peace than following Him…traveling the path He has laid before me. Nothing brings more Joy than living through the experiences He has planned out. Nothing provides more security than knowing that He has already provided for my future…that He has nothing but good in store for me…that He will bring about the truest desires of my heart…for He is who placed them there. And so today, together, we roamed the woods…we stuck to the wooded path…and we conversed. And tomorrow I’ll continue to travel right by His side.
What does a person pack for an excursion through pain and sorrow, sadness and disappointment? Walking along side of those who are suffering deep, unbearable grief bears a stark resemblance to a midnight stroll at ocean’s edge. Its unfathomable depth strikes fear in one who has had no experience with it. The breath-stealing power of it sweeps over you in waves. A close encounter with either…the ocean…the deepest grief…doesn’t necessarily remove the fear; but rather it seems to expand it.
I am never more focused on packing for a trip than when I am disappearing to the ocean. Unlike any other adventure, there are so many things to take into consideration; the scorching sun, the stinging winds, the critters lurking beneath the surface of the glistening sands, the creatures of the deep. I can prepare for all of that. I know where I am going and what I am going to face and can pack all that is needed to protect myself from any sort of discomfort.
How does one pack and prepare to walk through tragedy…to keep oneself safe from imminent harm? During the days that made up the past month, I have watched several parents bury their young. Tragic accidents changed lives, destroyed dreams, stripped families of loved ones, stopped life in its tracks and caused pain so gut-wrenching that those remaining would be changed for all time. As the survivors splashed through the days before them, each step forward led them on a journey they’d never been before. One foot in front of the other, one breath and then two, they managed to make it through the very next moment. Unprepared, with them they carried nothing; nothing but raw emotion.
It was as they each gained their new experiences in this life that I began to notice their differences. Oh, yes, they all displayed anger, fear, sorrow, and pain, but, how they handled it bore evidence that while they didn’t foresee the events of the day, some were somehow prepared to make the resulting journey safely to the other side…with hope. They refused to allow death to have the final say and were able to bring hope and joy into the lives of others via their loss.
I have been on many different types of excursions. Many of those were brand new to me, and my only hope of being prepared and having a good time was found in the person leading the outing. The same is true for much of what I experience in this life. I have no chance of getting through any of it other than to put my hope in the One Who is leading me through it. Time spent with Him is what prepares me to splash through my own days…fearless. In that splashing, I pray that the joy and hope He fills me with will spatter on to those around me.
Here it is…the day that I declared that I would put pen to paper…or in this case, fingers to keyboard. With the first week of the new year almost behind us, we have 359 days left of 2017. There are 24 hours in each of those days…1440 minutes…516,960 minutes left in this year. As I did the math I had to ask myself how many of those moments would be rendered useless and empty because I chose not to use them wisely…how many of them would I use for selfish gain or reason…how many would I use to lead others to experience the exciting life that God has waiting for them…how many would I use to bring myself into a deeper, more adventurous and exciting relationship with Him.My goal is to not waste any of them this year; to live each one as though it were my last. So today it begins: LESS…less sitting in front of the television, no matter who is asking me to do so…less stomping around on different apps in search of nothing…less social media..less game playing…less drama…less seeking information that is not useful and beneficial for walking the path God has set before me…MORE…more time in the stillness…more time at rest…more time on the road seeking all that lies off the beaten path…more seeking the new and the not so new…more pursuing Him…more leading others…more loving…more living…more reading..more learning….LESS…less blaming others for the manipulation of my time…MORE…more taking responsibility for what God has entrusted me with…time…people…things..more finishing things that have been started….LESS…less wasting what I’ve been blessed with…MORE….more perfecting what I have been showered with in order that it be used for building His Kingdom. Generally, not wasting the seemingly small and insignificant moments of the day but rather investing in them so that the hours and the days can be used to enthusiastically seek out adventure. Oh what JOY to learn to say NO to insignificant things and say YES to a God who wants to show us what exists in His grand creation!!! I look forward to sharing the journeys and all that is gleaned from them with you here. Please feel free to share your own..I would love to hear about them!!!