Your way, or God’s way?

IMG_5480.JPGRedirection. This can be a frightening term that intimidates many people. It sounds like you will have to take ten steps back, for your five previous steps forward, putting you five steps behind where you started. That is not something anyone wants to do. However, redirecting is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, but it does mean backtracking.

When I went rollerblading the other day, I was going strong and going far. The only thing about my journey, was the route I was taking, was not going to get me to my end goal of the lighthouse, like I wanted.

Here’s what happened. I was rollerblading and the path was so brutally rough, unleveled, and just plain miserable to trail down. This made my ride so it was not enjoyable at all, to the point, that I was contemplating giving up on the whole trip altogether. But there was a part of me, that wanted to have that accomplishment of making it to Barnegat Light, despite the rigid terrain, I had to travel to get there.

So, all I did, was, take some back roads that had fewer bumps and uneven roads. I was POSITIVE these back streets would get me to the same place by means of a different passage.  The new route I traveled, was much smoother, and it gave my already sore feet, a break from the jagged concrete. I was making strides towards my end goal of the lighthouse, or, at least, so I thought.

Then, I fell. I was not badly injured, although the rocky pavement had left its mark on me in multiple places. At that point, I was not sure if it was even worth it to keep going, or if I should put my tail between my legs, and call my mom to pick me up… several towns away.

I found myself torn between what I should do. Should I attempt to pick up any remaining pride I had left, and journey on, or should I give up, find a way home, and forget my hope to make it to the end of the island.

While I was debating this in my head, I remained on the ground pondering where to go, and how to access the shuttle, if that was the route I was going to take. As I sat there, a woman had come across the street asking me if I was okay, to which I responded yes, but she was not convinced since I had made no effort up until that point, to get up. I got up, then and assured her I was fine. My quandary still hung in the air, though. To turn back or to press on, that was the question.

I decided then, to keep going, with more determination than I had before I fell. However, what I realized was that I was going the wrong way and that I would have not found the way to the lighthouse if I tried to get there by relying on my own internal map to guide me. I would have ended up getting more lost than I was already. Then, I would really have had to call my mom or find my way to the nearest shuttle, which I had no idea how to do, or where I had to go to find one. Although I am a local to the island, I have never had to take the shuttle anywhere, but I digress.

Back to the map, I was drawing about redirection. Had I not fallen, I would have not known how I was off the right path, to begin with. It took bringing me slight pain to understand how, by taking my way, I was really going down a dead end.

Because of the minor injuries I had gained on my adventure, I then, told my smartphone to get me directions, actual directions, not my “directions” to the lighthouse, because I wanted to make my pain worth the achievement of reaching the lighthouse.

I had wasted so much time because I thought I knew the way, that when I finally dusted myself off, the sun had already begun to set. My own path had taken me so out of the way that I was aiming to go, that I lost the daylight that I started my trek out during.

Once I was back on the right trail, I was able to find the lighthouse within a few minutes. I was still a long way off, but I was much closer than I had been previously. 

But nothing else on the ride there would prevent me from reaching my goal anymore. I was steadfast on arriving at the lighthouse. The final miles seemed endless, but now that I was on the right path, I no longer cared how long it took. My GPS said it was about forty minutes, but I do not know how accurate that was when I factored in the elements, such as the wind, and the bumpy road, I faced.

When I eventually got to Barnegat Light, my day had been made complete. I was able to proudly say that I made it, not in my strength, but in the Lord’s mercy and persevering through his grace. He is the only reason I made it. The sun had not set yet, and that gave me ample time to get myself situated, take some photographs of the lighthouse, and find the perfect spot to rest, as I basked in the beauty of the clouds surrounding the well-built sanctuary of the sea.IMG_5477.JPG

Suddenly all the self-inflicted pain of going the wrong way vanished, and I was given such a sacred moment with the Lord, as he revealed his magnificence and grandeur to me, through the view he placed before me. I had no soreness in that instant, it was just me and the Creator. All the other people at the lighthouse disappeared along with my suffering because it was such an awe-inspiring encounter with the Maker, that nothing else mattered.

Have you ever felt like this, like you had something bad happen in your life that made you want to give up, but the little voice inside of you, pushed you not to give up?

Have you had that moment where you had to make a conscious decision, to push back against your circumstance?

That time, where you may have even known you were going down the wrong path, but went down it, nonetheless?

Redirecting — it only means that God knows what he wants for you, better than you know, yourself.

The reward is great when we follow him and trust him to lead us, but, so are the storms that he allows us to face when we try to find an alternative route. Many know this as the path of least resistance. What we tend to forget, however, is that Christ did not take the path of least resistance, but instead, took the path that would save the most souls from eternal suffering. We are required to go down that path as well so God’s guidance and hand on us, can be the only way we possibly make it through.

Like the reward of watching one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, the reward in heaven, that awaits us, as saints, is indescribable, and well worth the hard trail we have to trek down, in order to get there someday.

Next time you want to try going your way, not God’s way, remember that there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ, who is the only way.

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—  my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”

Job 11:13-16 “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.

Rollerblading Reflections

Do you have something that inspires you to go further, to try harder, to do your best and then some?

Everyone has something, but some find their inspiration easier than others. Mine was something that has been in my life since I was young. My muse, so to speak is rollerblading. Allow me to explain what I mean…

When I was little, about six or so, my school would have these roller skating and rollerblading parties, back when indoor roller rinks were still a popular place. It was a night when there were no uniforms, (I went to a private school with strict dress codes), children like me were not in “student-mode” in the same way that teachers were not in “grading-supervisor-mode”. It was a place to unwind from a stressful week or just a fun environment to let loose in.

I did not realize it then, but now understand the impact rollerblading has had on my life. When I need to clear my head or get away from the world, I go for a blade. It is very nice because I get to explore my surroundings in a way that best fits me. I get to use my senses to guide me.

When the road is smooth in front of me, it is easier to look at where I am going instead of the path in front of my feet. The rocks are more likely to get caught or even trip me up, quite literally, when the path is bumpy and I am not able to go fast. But in order to reach my end destination, I must keep going even when the path gets rough.

Sometimes I am tempted to go down a road going a different direction, if only for a break from the jagged trail, but then remember that that other road is not going to take me where I am trying to go and decide to keep going on the pothole-filled terrain in front of me.

When I do finally make it to Barnegat Lighthouse, at the end of the island, (14 miles away), it is always worth the trying trek I endured to get there! Seeing the lighthouse is rewarding and gives me the feeling of accomplishing something big. It is only then that I pay attention to my aching calves but even the pain I feel cannot compare to the breathtaking view in front of me — both in ambiance and by the fact that I have to actually still catch my breath.

My spiritual life is similar to this picture I painted. When I need to escape from stress, anxiety, outer pressure, or just life in general, I can go to God and he will give me a spiritual break as he pours into me and refills the empty vessel that is my life. He will take me to a place inwardly that is peaceful and rejuvenating. All I have to do is come! When I choose to come to him with all my worries and fears, he is more than happy to relieve me of my burdens – in fact, he wants to take my load and give me his light load in its place.

The next way it can be equated spiritually is, how I am called to persevere especially in hardships, (the bumps and rocks in the road). The reward waiting for me, (the lighthouse), or in this case, Jesus, will be worth all the tribulations that I face. When I am face to face with my Savior, I will not remember the temporary pain I had to overcome on the journey because his face, his nature, his presence is so breathtaking!

The flip side of the jagged road is that when the path is smooth, it is, unfortunately, much easier for me to lose sight of God’s ever-present hand guiding me and protecting me. It may seem crazy to others, but I truly believe that I am given the spiritual rough paths because I take my focus off of the Lord since I do not “need him” in that moment. I always need God but this mindset of self-reliance is too easy to get stuck believing.

There are times, however, as I travel the stable road where I am conscious of my need for God because I am able to see how far I have come because of his hand in my life. In that moment, the blessings and the trials he has given me are so apparent because I am paying attention! It is a way of assuring me that though I will have more rugged roads to travel down there will be gentle roads as well and while I travel both, Jesus IS with me.

In both the flat and uneven trails, Jesus promises to be my balance and he will get me through every mountain and every valley, every meadow and every forest, He WILL bring me through every single thing I face— All I am required to do is trust him like I trust my blades to keep me balanced and upright as he takes me down his path.

Food for thought.

Maybe the smooth paths in your life are where Jesus paved the way as he dragged his cross behind him for your sins and where the trail is rough is where he asks you to take up your cross and follow him. Maybe this is so that others may have a smooth road where you hit bumps in your spiritual ‘blade’.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ~Matthew 16:24

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. ~Deuteronomy 31:8

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ~Romans 8:18

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever. ~Psalm 73:26Psalm 73:26