I could have skipped it and gone another way, but I chose not to. I have walked on a trail by my house for a couple of years, watching the magic of nature slip from one season into the next.
On humid summer evenings with the air so still, I have come upon deer making their way through the tall grass trying not to be detected.
Nothing compares to a day when a slight breeze picks up, and you are strolling through a brief, unexpected dry leaf shower. The leaves in the fall brilliantly turn to flaming reds and gold before they lose their grip. They gently come down as if God Himself is sprinkling you with a message of His divine presence.
Winter, harsh at times in this wooded area, always makes me stop just for a second to see what possibly could still be alive and moving in the frequently subzero temperatures. Typically, the pathway through is plowed and pretty easy to navigate.
But not this time. I saw as I crossed the street that the snow bank to the entrance was high, and it wasn’t going to be the usual walk without a challenge. I considered turning around but decided to make the best of it. I second-guessed myself as the initial bits of snow began to pack around my ankles inside my boots.
Someone had been there before me, so wherever I could, I slipped my foot inside their left behind shoe print. If you have ever tried walking fast through wet sand, it’s similar in that you feel like you are putting in a lot of effort to move forward while feeling like you aren’t making much progress. The only thing that feels like it is being produced is a cold sweat.
It looked like 2022 for me, where each day felt like only a little was being accomplished, but I was striving.
Before the halfway mark, I had the opportunity to exit onto the street, but I decided that my legs weren’t on fire enough and my muscles could use a little more toning. I can be stubborn like that. My jeans will fit me better later, is my thinking.
I encountered a particularly rough spot where I had to have my feet apart and straddling, much like running through an obstacle course of old tires. I half expected a guy to appear with a military haircut, blow a whistle at me, and tell me to hurry up.
Nature provided me with an outdoor gym, and I inhaled as much fresh air as my lungs could take. I wasn’t enjoying the scenery as much because I had to watch where I was going continually. Usually, I can be in autopilot mode, but the situation forced me to pay attention to every move I made.
As I came to the end, I wondered who would use my blazed trail to their advantage if they were caught unaware of it being piled up with snow.
A few weeks ago, before Christmas, while considering my not-so-great financial state, I saw a clear memory in my mind’s eye, heard that still, small voice, and I wrote this in a notebook:
Every month I have shown My faithfulness to you as you have had to rely on Me. You have felt the pressure of the world bearing down on you as you have tried to walk the way I have told you to go. You have followed in My footsteps. Think of when you were young, and an older brother of yours walked ahead of you to make it easier for you to walk through deep snow.
I am that good Father. I am putting my steps before you so you can put your feet where Mine are. The snow won’t be deep. It will be a depth that you will be able to handle. I will never let you go under or fail you.
It seems at times like it’s all the same. It appears to be the same as always, but it isn’t. I am having you put your feet where Mine go before you so you can walk. You are My daughter. I look at you like my little child, full of such wisdom and knowledge. Do not fear the month. Do you see My steps for you to follow? (Yes) Then that’s all you need to do. Just listen to Me and do what you hear. I will never fail you. Just walk in my footsteps and stay with Me.
I will lead you to greater places outside of this box you now dwell in. For now, just go each day and know how much I can make all things perfect. My plan for your life is perfectly made.
By the time I got home, my socks were soaking wet, and chunks of snow were clinging to my pants, but I had gotten in one of the best workouts that cost me nothing but an hour. If I had listened to the “rational” voice, I wouldn’t have chosen the way I did. I would have walked on the sidewalk or the street like everyone else, forgoing the struggle. But what is there to gain by doing what everyone else is?
Going the unconventional way while everyone else is wondering why you aren’t taking the seemingly more effortless way out is a part of the mystery of following God. Different voices have asked me why I have lived my life a certain way in the last year. The only thing I can say is that I have tried to allow God to do a work in me.
While I struggled on the trail, I added my steps to that of others to make it easier for anyone coming by later.
While trying to figure out my life and how to serve God best that’s the most rewarding part.
Proverbs 11:25 says:
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
There have been days when I could barely get out of bed, but I did anyway. Mainly because of my 14-year-old dog, who wants to go outside and come charging back in to eat. Who can say no to that?
There have been times of great mental torment, like when my car broke down, and I sat paralyzed by a panic attack in a rental car for nearly 40 minutes. A day when I grabbed a pillow at noon and didn’t leave the couch as my body kept going into deep periods of sleep. Others where I lost my ability to smile when it has always come to me so easily up until then—sitting with nothing to say as I listened to everyone else in public carry on conversations looking like they didn’t have a care in the world. And, I felt like I was under the weight of it.
The snow has been deep, and I have felt frozen, but His footsteps have been there, leading me forward.