It was an uncharacteristically warm January day. Scott and I decided to go on a bit of an adventure. We had discovered a nice civil war era hiking trail and wanted to do some more exploring.
The riverside trail had obviously been overrun fairly recently. Long grasses laid flat like hair slicked back on a 1950’s teenager. Trees, leaves, and mud lined the path as if someone had taken a spackling paddle and smoothed it down. At first, it was neat to see the river’s meandering footprint…until we realized that also meant the trail was reduced to a quagmire of mud and leaves. The further we ventured the more time we spent walking on mud than dry ground. Our fancy hiking gear, i.e. tennis shoes, soon became caked with mud, which greatly affected traction.
I was following behind Scott and thankful I could plot my next steps based on how far he sunk in the mud before me. For the most part, we managed to avoid great tragedy, but there were several close calls…mainly on my part. There was no way to step confidently, even if the path appeared dry. Slick mud hid below dusty leaves as if nature had created her own booby-traps for wayward hikers.
Several times I found myself flailing my arms in an effort to realign my torso with my feet and keep from falling in the mud. After a while, I began to notice something. No matter how treacherous the terrain was, or how difficult a particular patch of the trail was to navigate, Scott never looked back to check on me! Oh, every now and then he’d ask “You okay back there?” without so much as peering over his shoulder. At first I figured he was too busy focusing on his own effort, and who could fault him for that, I did after all count on his good foot choices to guide my own. However, eventually I began to feel a little uncared for and neglected. What if I needed help? What if I could use a hand to steady my step? What if I fell?
“Scott, aren’t even going to turn around and check on me?” I asked after a particularly squishy passage. “I don’t need to, I am keeping an ear out for you.” He replied. I’ll let that statement set with you a while….umhmmm The man of my dreams, friend for life, father of my children and current hiking buddy was only listening for my falling! Apparently he was sure that he would hear the “swoosh, thud” that would no doubt result should I fall and THEN he would help me!!!
You will not find it surprising that I took opportunity in the middle of the forest to correct his mindset. Just keeping an “ear out” for me only allowed him to assist with the consequences of my fall, whereas if he would keep an “eye out” for me he could see I needed assistance and perhaps lend a hand to lessen, or even PREVENT, a fall. Surprisingly, we made it back to our vehicle without him ever hearing the dreaded “swoosh thud.”
I am happy to report that on a more recent hiking endeavor, he did visually check on me periodically and asked if needed assistance at least twice! I can’t help but think about how grateful I am that my God does more than “keep an ear out” for me. A life journey can be filled with slick spots, hard rocks, and difficult passages. I know that every step I take is under the watchful eye of a sovereign God. He is there to prevent my falling. If He allows me to fall, it will be so He can show me His provision. If I fall because I fail to follow Him, He is the first to see it and the first to be there for my recovery.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9