Have you ever felt lost? For a moment, pretend you are hiking in the woods. You are on a trail and understand how to read the trail marks. As you follow the trail, you notice several intriguing items, a bird perched on a branch of a tall oak tree, the river which flows continuously and feeds all plants and trees by it or even the chipmunks which scurry around. Just as you are admiring God’s creation you realize something, you’re no longer on the trail. To add to your worry, you can’t see the trail marks either. As you wander in the dense foliage, you come across another hiker (or so you thought).
The “hiker” tells you to turn around go back about 100 feet and look for the small birch tree. It has a marking on it. You turn around, run to the small birch tree and see the mark, only it isn’t a hiking mark. There are four markings, long deep lines, stacked upon another. You look at the hiking book you have and realize those are not just marks, they are the residual of a bear scratching at the tree. Your anxiety kicks in. Not only are you lost but the “hiker” just sent you into bear territory. You need to move and quickly.
You turn left and decide that going in a straight line is best. You look up to see the sun, but cannot. The forest is so dense that it cuts out almost all of the sunlight. It is as if the canopy of foliage has swallowed up the heavens, hiding the glory of the Most High. Your anxiety begins to heighten. Thoughts of dying in the woods from starvation, getting eaten by a bear or mountain lion and even drowning begin to the thought process. You begin to wonder what your family is thinking. Are you okay? Are you hurt? Are you still alive? It is then you look up to the sliver of light creeping through the foliage and cry out to God. You say, “Oh Lord, I am lost! Get me out of here! I can’t do this! Please Lord, help me. I’ll do anything you want, if you get me out of here!” As you sit in silence, you wait and listen. No response.
After a moment’s rest, you get up and begin to journey further. You come across another would be hiker. You ask, “Can you please help me? I am trying to find the hiking marker so I can get back on the trail.” The hiker turns and says, “Turn left and go about ½ mile. There you will find an old oak tree with one of the markers you are looking for.” You thank the hiker and begin moving toward the place he pointed out to you.
As you approach the area the second hiker told you about, you remember the first “hiker”. Would this hiker also send you into a den of horror and terror? You begin to have second thoughts. You stutter for a moment, but remember your family needs you, so you continue to approach the area. You see the tree from a distance and run toward it. At this moment, you see a marking on the tree. It is a small hole. As you look closer, you notice there are several small holes all over the tree. At that moment, you take a look at your hiking book and realize those are woodpecker holes. You read that woodpeckers create these holes when looking for bugs they can eat. It is then you realize the old oak tree is not even alive. It may look alive, but on the inside, it is as rotten as an apple sitting in the sun on a hot summer day. Your anxiety peaks. Your heart feels like it could come out of your chest. Nausea enters your stomach, your hands begin to tremble and sweat drenches your shirt, your greatest fears become an alternate reality for you. You cry out to God again. “Lord!”, you scream. “Please, please, please, get me out of here! I’m sorry for going off the trail! I’m sorry for whatever I did to get here! Please Lord, get me home!.” You again sit in silence, waiting for a reply, but none come. Only the sound of the gentle breeze or an occasional chirping bird is all you hear. You begin to doubt. “Why won’t God answer? Why has He left me here?” You begin to cry in desperation.
As you sit and wonder what your death will be, you open your bag for a small snack and water to try and get rid of the nausea. As you rummage through your bag, you grab a bag of trail mix and yank it out of the bag. But something else came out with it, your hiking book. It falls on the ground. As you eat your snack you stare at the book. Two thoughts come across your mind. The first thought says, “Pick it up and read it.” The second thought says, “It didn’t help you before. What makes you think it can help now?” You toy with each of these thoughts trying to make sense of each of them. On one hand, if you read the hiking book, you’ll learn a lot, but will that help you in this predicament? On the other hand, it only told you about what you see. You don’t ever remember reading about trail markings. Both thoughts seem hopeless. Both thoughts have the same risk factor. One thought may lead to safety, while the other one may lead to your demise. But which thought was which? Which one will lead you to safety?
The story isn’t quite finished, but I wanted to pause to ask you, as you read this story, how did it make you feel? Did you begin to worry? Did an actual situation come to mind? Maybe you felt nauseas? Maybe your hands began to tremble? Did your heart race while you read this? Did a panic attack begin? Which thought do you feel is the correct one? Should you look at the hiker’s book or should you discover another way? Which would you choose? Let’s get back with the story to find out.
Suddenly, there is a refreshing cool breeze. The feeling of calmness begins to take root inside your mind. You close your eyes and begin to count backwards from 10 to 1, taking slow deep breaths with every number counted. The thoughts in your mind begin to have an order. Instead of irrational thoughts leading to irrational behavior, you begin to put the pieces of this crazy puzzle together. You look down and notice something odd, something you never noticed before. There is a hand-written note on the inside cover.
You pick up the hiker’s book and read the inscription:
This book is based on what I found while hiking these trails. It contains all you need to survive your journey, no matter what trail you are on. This book contains which foods you can eat and which ones to avoid. It will guide you from one trail to the next in order to ensure you avoid any potential threats, such as bear and mountain lion dens. It will also guide you as an educator so that you will not be surprised at what surrounds you. This book is my gift to you. I have sent this book to other hikers as well. If you come across another hiker but they do not have or listen to my words contained in this book, avoid their advice. They do not have your best interest at heart, no matter how nice they may be. I know these woods and trails, because I created them. I paved the way for you to enjoy what God has created.
With love and affection,
At that moment, you realize you had the answers all along. You begin to study the book, rather than read it. You notice chapters and notes that you had not seen before. You read about the delicious fruit on one trail and the refreshing waters on another. You read about the dense forest and its beauty but also recognize the warning of darkness on this trail. It is then you realize, the trail you need is less than a mile away. Now instead of anxiety and worry, you feel a peace you have not felt for some time.
You begin to remember how you received this book. The older gentleman who passed it along to you, telling you to read and study the book before you journey into the forest. He said he was like you and someone had passed this to him and now he would like to pass it to you. You remember his joy and excitement to tell you what he had seen along his journey. You remember his excitement easily flowed from his being to yours.
Upon graciously accepting this book, a joy and excitement about your journey came over you. You couldn’t wait to prepare and begin. Memories of the countless hours you spent preparing for this journey. You remember what it felt like to be a kid again. Never did you think your journey would end up like this, but now you remember the hope you once had. It was because of this book that you were able to find your trail and continue on your journey.
Just like the Trailblazer’s hiking book, we too have a book that will guide us on our journey in this life. It is called the Bible. The Bible has everything we need to not just survive this life, but thrive. It shows us where the nourishment is and what places, things or people to avoid.
2 Timothy 3:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
This means that no matter our situation, no matter how struggle, no matter our mountain top experience, the Bible has everything that we need. It contains encouragement during our times of struggle. It contains praise during our time of flourishing. It contains words of wisdom for advice and words of rebuke for our rebellion. The Bible gives us the guidelines for a prosperous life and warnings of problematic one.
Just like in our story, we have a trailblazer as well. His name is Jesus Christ. He created this world, came to this world in order that He might trailblaze a way back to the Father. It was His life, death and resurrection which allow us to live this life (and the next) with confidence, love and servitude. It is only because of what He did that we can have eternal life with Him.
This Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. It is a time where we reflect and rejoice on what Jesus Christ did. We will hear about His sacrifice but rejoice in knowing that He lives! Not only that but we can also rejoice because He will return and make all things new one day.
Revelation 22:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Like the hiker in the story, all we need to do is open up the Bible, read and study its words and ask God to guide our hearts and minds into whatever He desires for us. Everything we need for this life is contained in the Bible and the greatest part is that our “trailblazer” lives and wants us to know Him better. Take time this week to open up the Bible and discover the greatest story ever written…. Jesus Christ is alive and well! He has Risen!
God bless and encourage someone today.