Have you ever relied on a flashlight to light the path of where you need to go? Some of my fondest childhood memories involve camping with my dad. We have several places where we enjoy pitching a tent, but our favorite is Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Not only is it clean, well-kept, and comes with nice bathhouses, but it’s so quiet and peaceful the wildlife can usually be seen wandering through the campground. We’ve seen everything from foxes and deer to wild ponies. One of our of our more memorable excursions was ten years ago.
I went to the bathhouse one evening, with the plan to sit by the campfire with my dad and our friend once I returned. It was so dark I could only see a couple of steps ahead of me using the flashlight. About two-thirds of the way back to our campsite, I heard my dad quietly say, “Psst! Erin, stop!”
After immediately stopping, my dad continued, “Don’t shine the light towards us. I want you to take the path to the tent. As quietly as you can, get in the tent, and stay there.”
Like anyone who’s ever spent time in nature, you learn to immediately obey when given an order, even when you don’t understand why. Although it wasn’t my plan to spend the rest of the evening in the tent, I followed my dad’s instructions. Safely ensconced inside, I used my flashlight to read, all the while wondering why I was forced to go down a different path. Two hours later, I got my answer when my dad and our friend finally climbed into the tent. Apparently, right after I went to the bathhouse, a skunk decided he liked the campfire and wanted to explore. For two hours, the skunk walked between the chairs, around the picnic table, and circled the fire while my dad and friend barely moved a muscle. As the campfire died down, their little friend decided he had enough and slowly meandered away from our camp. Needless to say, it took both guys awhile to unwind and relax before they could sleep!
I’ve been thinking about this the past few weeks. As most of you know, I’m a planner by nature. I like to know what’s coming. When God tells me to do something, I can imagine what a mile down the proverbial road looks like, but that’s not how God works. True faith is trusting God for the next step of the journey. It’s admitting that we don’t know the future and surrendering our plans to God. As much as I’d like to know what’s coming, God won’t allow that to happen because then I’m relying on myself rather than on Him. That’s why faith is like a flashlight. Rather than lighting up the whole path showing us what’s coming, faith is a daily reliance on God to help us with each step of our journey. Sometimes, God is gracious and allows us to get a glimpse of the bigger picture, but even then, we don’t get to see everything. It’s why it’s so important to spend time with God daily, both in prayer and studying His Word, so that we have our flashlights of faith showing us the next step to take.
The thing we have to remember is that when we trust God to show us the next step of our journey, He’s sometimes going to take us down unexpected paths. Whether it’s to protect us from unseen dangers or because He has a blessing in store that we can’t begin to imagine, God knows what He’s doing. Just because we can’t see everything ahead doesn’t mean He doesn’t. That’s what faith is – going to God, choosing to trust Him for each step of the journey.
God has a plan for each of our lives. Don’t be so set on the destination that you miss where He wants to take you. Go to God daily, grab your trusty flashlight of faith, and take the next step!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6