There was no fork in the road. I am certain of this. There was no time in which I stood before two varying paths and chose one, and yet, somehow I ended up on a different path than planned…a wrong path leading nowhere. Yep, it sounds like a life analogy (and of course it is), but I am actually referring to my most recent jogging endeavor.
I decided to go for a jog at a local park. Burk Lake Park boast of a lovely lake that is surrounded by over 4.5 miles of well cared for bike/walking trails. I confidently plodded along encouraged by the numerous runners of various shapes and sizes that had also taken on this morning task. Seriously, when a woman not more than 5ft. tall and certainly over 60 years of age passes you not once, but twice, you feel compelled to keep moving.
The trail is about 3ft. wide and is primarily packed ground and gravel. I was moving along and taking in the beauty of my surroundings when I noticed the trail getting a bit more narrow. Eventually I was dodging low hanging branches and swerving to miss rather large rocks. When I had to stop entirely to climb a huge tree which had fallen over the path, and when the thick underbrush of the woods formed an impassable wall before me, I decided I was somehow off track.
Apparently small trails had been worn down by other travelers over time leading from the main path to the lake’s edge. These side paths extended like fingers on a hand and soon I was jogging up and down each one trying to find the original and actual trail. Eventually another runner joined me down one of these wrong paths. We may have both been off track, but I knew we shared a common destination.
I followed him. You see, even though he was just as imperfect as I was, notice he was also on the wrong path, he DID seem to have more experience. I came to this conclusion by judging his appearance. With a head of gray hair, he stood atop two VERY muscular legs. His skin clung tightly to chiseled calves, the tell tale sign of lifetime runners. He also sported what I call the “batman utility belt,” a belt that holds everything from cell phones and keys to power bars and water bottles, another clue he was an experienced runner. Soon we were both back on track.
I was amazed at how obvious the trail seemed to me now. I still cannot imagine how I managed to get off it. The good news is that the unplanned diversion forced me to jog farther than I thought that I could. I was excited when I realized I had surpassed my goal that day. The bad news is that even with this experience behind me I cannot say with certainty it will not happen again.
Life is a lot like that I think. Sometimes we end up going a different direction than planned. Sometimes we veer off our intended path. We may be prepared to stand before life’s various “forks in the road” and make life altering choices, but what happens when we miss a turn or turn when we should not…when there is no obvious “fork”?
Should you find, as I have before, that you are not where you intend to be, that you somehow got going a wrong direction, now is a good time to find your way back. Some of the steps I used to get back to my car that day may apply…
- Admit you are “off track”. At first, I tried to pretend I knew where I was, it did not help. It only resulted in me jogging confidently into a wall of leaves. It does not help when we stubbornly continue to go the wrong way, fully aware we are misdirected.
- DO NOT isolate yourself. It may be embarrassing to let others see where you are or admit how “far off the path” you have gone… but isolation will not lead you home.
- Find someone to follow. Find others who are going the direction in life you desire. They may not always be perfect either, but there are always people who can be good examples and encouragers.
- Verify this person’s ability to help you.
a. Do they LOOK like they know where they are supposed to be
- b. Do they have the proper equipping…are they walking the walk
I am not entirely certain that getting “off track” is avoidable…but I think there are things that may reduce the chances of getting lost along the way…
- Pay attention…there may be many things distracting us, but seek God each day… “God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee, my soul thirsteth for thee…”Psalm 63:1
- Follow a map/directions…God did not leave us here without instruction or guidance, He has given His Word and the Holy Spirit. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” John 14:26
I am thankful that our God loves us so much, that even when we veer off the path He gives us grace. He loves us and desires us to return to Him. I am without words to describe the times He has taken my missteps and turned them into His triumph in my life. Much like getting lost that day lead me past my goal, He can turn our detours in life into His glory.