Forrest For The Trees

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Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27 

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 

Insight

In western Maryland, part of the middle school curriculum involved an overnight experience to learn more about nature and science. We bunked in cabins in the middle of nowhere, ate horrible food, got stung by a bunch of mosquitos and attempted to avoid the poison ivy.

On the final day, groups of students, along with a teacher, headed into the woods with only a compass, a map, and a sheet of directions. The goal of the expedition: to arrive in time for a celebratory cookout at a local park.

My ragtag gang started our journey full of hope only to see that slowly dwindle as the minutes and hours went by. Impatience and frustration turned into fear and worry when the trees got thicker, the trails disappeared, and daylight began to fade. And since it was pre-historic days (a.k.a. the early 90s), we couldn't call for help, utilize a GPS, or even post an Instagram story about the whole ordeal. 

Someone finally spoke up and gave a voice to what we were all thinking: WE'RE LOST! We had no clue how we got there, and we had no earthly idea of how to get ourselves out. Our already agitated hearts began to race when we heard a rustling in the woods.

Suddenly, a group of burly men appeared, perplexed to see a bunch of middle school students. Those gentlemen were Secret Service agents and they informed us that we had somehow managed to get so lost that we were on the edge of Camp David, the vacation home for the President of the United States. They escorted us off the property and led us to the park for a cookout that had long since been over. 

When I reflect on the need for support and redemptive relationships, this childhood memory often comes to mind. At one time or another, we all lose our way. Our response to life's circumstances pushes us off course. We travel down unintended trails through slight missteps, justifications, or ignoring the warning signs of our heart altogether. We get enticed by particular views, and our feet wander off the path that leads to humility and integrity. 

By the time we look up and assess our surroundings, we wonder how we got into this predicament. We never meant to arrive at a place where we can't see the forest for the trees. Sometimes our stubbornness and determination causes us to put our heads down and continue to push forward thinking that by our strength, self-will, and wisdom we can find our way out. 

Just like my middle school group desperately required a rescuer, each one of us also needs someone to keep us on course and point us toward the path of redemption, restoration, and transformation. Looking to the life of Christ serves as our compass and True North. But it is also critical that we surround ourselves with individuals who are on the same journey to reflect His heart and character through their words and actions. Together, we can walk those well-worn trails leading us to the full and freeing life Christ promises us.

Reflection

  • Are there places where your life has gone off-course? Who knows, cares and can support you through this situation?

Prayer

God, help me to see those places where my feet have wandered off in a direction where danger, hurt, and confusion reside. Let me be honest and transparent about my circumstances not only to You but also to those who I know have my best interest at heart. May I walk with integrity and purpose. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.


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