Over the years people have often shared with me their vacation experiences. Some of you have done the same. One pastor I know recently took a three month sabbatical and bicycled through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Another pastor I talked with uses his vacation time to hike parts of the famous Appalachian Trail. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, ranging from Maine to Georgia (2,200 miles).
A forest ranger in Wales described the most common question that visitors to his park ask the forest rangers. Many people, he said, come to the park to hike one of the beautiful trails that wander through the forest, trails designed to display the magnificent trees and plants, to let hikers encounter the array of wildlife in the forest, and to take hikers on to hilltops for breathtaking views of the countryside. But the most frequent question that visitors ask the forest rangers is not “Where does this trail go? Or “How long does it take to hike it?” or “Do we need bug spray on the trail,” but instead “Excuse me, can you tell me where the trail starts?” When you think about it, it makes sense. No matter how lively or breathtaking a trail it may be, if you don’t know where the trail starts, you can’t hike it.
I thought about that question as I wondered about our faith journey. For the Christian it begins in the waters of our baptism, and from there we undertake a life-long journey with the Holy Spirit as our guide. The Scriptures provide a map, and parents, teachers, pastors, and even strangers help us along the way.
Many times we have those “mountain-top experiences,” where we feel on top of the world and thank God for all he has given us, and at other times we feel down in the valleys when we get hurt or injured along the path of life. Then there are those times when we feel lost, and we cry out to God for help and guidance.
In all of these times, know that Jesus has gone ahead of you to prepare the way. He picks you up when you stumble or fall. He sends others to help you. When it gets dark along the way, he is the light. So enjoy God’s creation this summer, and no matter what obstacles you encounter along the way, know also that you are not along. Perhaps even, he will ask you to give a helping hand to someone who needs the refreshment of the Gospel message as they try to navigate maybe a more difficult path.
On the Path With You,