I start every day with the same thought regardless of what I am going through in life. Even when I have been confined to a hospital bed, in a serious car accident, jobless, hurting, scared, I have started the day the same way:
Psalm 118: 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Today started like every other day. It was a beautiful fall day. The sky was clear and bluer than I have ever seen it. I went to church this morning and heard a lesson about the giants we face in life and felt better than ever when I left.
My kids were with their dad today, and I got some time to myself. One of my favorite things to do is hike around Lake Crabtree, and this was the perfect day for it. Time without my kids gives me is time to think. That can sometimes be a dangerous thing, but not today.
When I got to Lake Crabtree, I was in awe of the beauty. (I have the pictures to prove it.) I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I have a strong faith in God and experience Him daily, and am glad to share my perception of God with people if they ask. My simple hike around the lake became a very spiritual experience for me. One quote mentioned in church sticks in my mind:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt
As I walked, I compared the hike to my journey through life and recognized so much imagery in a simple hike. I could also understand why so many famous writers got away to nature for inspiration. It was amazing. I felt enlightened, and it had nothing to do with the abundance of beautiful sunshine.
Whenever I hike, I always take the longest path. At the lake, it is the blue path and is not marked. I found my way by keeping my eye on the lake and knowing where it was at all times. I also followed in the footsteps of many who went down the same path before me.
Occasionally I would stray from the path and do one of two things. Either I would make my path, or I would easily find my way back to the path I needed to be on. Now and then, I would come across a small blue sign pointing me in the right direction. The sign would always point back to the lake. I would go long periods of time without seeing any signs. I would have never seen the signs if I had not been looking for them.
There were also things in my path at times like trees and rocks. As I was walking, I took the time to notice every ounce of beauty around me from the colorful leaves to the lake sparkling like diamonds in the sun. Some areas were too wet to walk, but someone had put in small planks and bridges to keep me from sinking. There were also larger bridges if I didn't feel like crossing the river on foot and getting a little wet.
You may be wondering, how in the world this could have anything to do with life, so let me explain.
God is my lake. When I don't keep my eye on Him, I feel lost. Even though the lake was contained in one place, no matter where I was on the path, I could see the lake. Sometimes I had to look harder to see the lake through the trees, but it was still there.
As we go down our path in life, God is always there and is not contained in one place, unless we put Him in only one place of our lives. Sometimes He may be harder to see, but if we look hard enough, we will find He was there all along.
We may not always have a clear path to go down in life. If we look hard enough for the signs, we will see them. I know I have missed a lot of signs in my life. Instead of worrying about the signs I have missed, I focus on not missing the ones ahead.
One thing that would never help me on this hike was looking back. I had nothing to gain from looking back and everything to gain from looking forward. Occasionally I would lose sight of the lake and get off the path. That did not mean my hike was over or I was lost. I was always able to find my way back to the original path.
On this path, I could take the hard way and not take advantage of the help I found along the way via bridges, etc. That would sometimes make the journey harder. The devices in place were there to help me, and there was no reason not to take advantage of them, especially when I did not want to sink in the mud.
Sometimes I can be very stubborn and insist on doing it on my own. I end up sinking sometimes. Taking advantage of the help around me does not make me any less of a hiker nor does it make me any less of a person in real life.
The path I took today was beautiful in every way. It was not the easiest, but the most worthwhile. In my life, I have not always taken the easiest of paths, but when I have kept my eyes on God, have always found my way. Just because this path was somewhat marked, there were no guarantees. Taking the path I chose did not mean I was on the safest path, nor did it mean I would not get hurt.
Sometimes I had no choice on which way to go, due to a rock, a tree, or a washed out bridge along the way. It took a little risk and some faith to keep on and get to the end. The objects in the path are similar to the difficulties I have faced in life. We all face difficulties, and there is always a way to get around or through them.
When I keep my focus on God, I triumph over even the biggest of stumbling blocks...even epilepsy, after 25 years. That was due to God, and my faith in Him.
The reason the quote stuck in my head was simple. All he was saying was the cold and timid hearts will never know victory or defeat simply because they never try. This is why I never give up no matter what I face. I keep trying. I am warm, loving and bold no matter how many things in life have hurt.
Just I was as stronger when I finished my hike today; I am stronger for having endured the hurts and risks along the way. The walk was beautiful and very worthwhile. So has my life been so far. I can only imagine what may be ahead. I am looking forward to it, whatever it means I have to endure. I know with God, all things are possible.
Written by Kristen Heir
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Reaching the world with the message of Jesus
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Samuel L Mills
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