These past few days, although not quite the same as my quiet beach trips, has reminded me of them. Why? Because it’s the beach. When I come to the beach and look in awe on God’s creation I can’t help but feel closer to Him. I stand in front of one of His many masterpieces and realize once again how big He is… and how little I am.
When I know I will have some quiet time, something that helps me get in the right frame of mind is to read over my past notes. Notes from retreats, notes from church, notes that I scribbled down to not forget when I’m in a place where notes don’t come as easily. I brought some of my notes with me here. One set of notes in particular is my binder full from my church’s ladies retreat 4 years ago. As I was reading through these notes today being reminded of the faithfulness of God, I came across a story, a memory, I wrote down then, that was the perfect encouragement for me now. I share it with you, I open my heart to you, in hopes that you are also encouraged by it.
During that retreat we were asked to go away on our own and be with the Lord. We had no guarantee of what would happen, but after hearing wonderful messages from wonderful women, it was time to reflect and listen to what God was wanting to tell us individually, about our own lives. It was the perfect setting. We were miles from home, out in the woods, at a retreat center on a gorgeous lake somewhere in Louisiana. Somewhere in God’s beautiful country. So I went out on my own. I ventured far out into the woods, the crazy girl that I am, and I got lost. Here’s my story. Here’s what God showed me as I walked in the woods.
“All my life Christ has led me, or at least He has shown me his path, to which I have many times refused. There were always sidetracks I went off on, thinking somehow that I knew better, that I knew what was safe. That I knew the path with the right ending. I took it alone…well, me and my pride. I stumbled and fell time after time. Until God took over. Until I finally, allowed Him to lead. He placed me on the right path. It still looked, for a while, like I was in control. The path still looked like my own. Until I started seeing other paths pass by.
When I was walking this afternoon I came up on an intersection thinking either way looked good, until I was upon it and realized one was a clear dead end. In life I would never have known that before, without God’s discernment and mercy upon me.
I was lost. I kept walking and began to hear noises, clicks, and movement in the woods. Normally, I would have run. My heart was beating fast and my insides had a shake to them. But this was life. There are always things hiding in the woods, ready to pounce. Or maybe not pounce, maybe slowly creep up on me, maybe a spider would land on my head and crawl down my shirt and before I know it it’s in my heart poisoning my trust in the Lord that this is the place He has for me. That He is leading my steps…whether I am uncertain and my insides are shaking or not. So I kept walking. And God is so good.
God was merciful on me and brought a wiser woman into my walk. At first she was behind me but when she saw struggling with spider webs and scary noises she offered to get in front. She was silent, just letting me follow her footsteps, away from branches and mud puddles. At one point she asked if I had a map and we laughed when she saw my map and said, “This won’t do at all!” She kept leading. It was a comfort and a grace from God that I could be in her rear-view mirror. It is a comfort and a grace from God that He has put older wiser women in my life for me to follow their steps. To hopefully keep me out of spider webs and mud puddles.
Even when we were both lost, she would ask others for directions and keep walking saying, “Surely this path will bring us back around.” Similarly we pray to the Lord daily and then walk in faith saying, “God’s path is right and true and righteous people live by walking in it.” Hosea 14:9.
Just when I think things are good and easy and low-key, she stops and puts her hand up for me to stop. She says, “Something is in there” as she points into the shrubbery. Into the woods. Oh so slowly and quietly she guides me through. I say that quickly but my heart was racing. I just knew we were going to be attacked by a wild boar. I did! In spite of my wild imagination I stayed on the path set before me. I took the counsel of the one God put on my path to help me and I lived…victoriously!
I had my scary moments and I had my peaceful ones. But, as in life, I have somehow kept on the path that God laid out for me. As we finally found the lake again she walked further ahead, as to say, ”I think you’ve got this.” And I did. She was still there, just a good yell away. I even passed her at one time, and that is life. God has given me times of great wisdom and counsel from wiser older women, but He is also very faithful to give me times to walk it out and see how I do. And I need that. I need to walk out the truths He has given to me and bring glory to Him in my obedience.
At some point in my walk I realized that I was in no way forced to continue walking. I very well could have taken a different path. I could have run ahead. I could have chosen to sit down and stop. But by God’s grace I didn’t. Even when I was truly winded, I kept walking. I wanted to see what God had in store for me, for his daughter. I wanted to “glean” from my mentor. I wanted to grow in faith. To walk a path in the woods without being utterly terrified. I want to be a truly godly wife, mother and friend without wanting to quit. I want to glorify God. I want to do it His way.
And I am. Because my God in heaven is faithful. He is faithful to provide for this sinner and I am so grateful. God has given me every provision that I have needed. Through Him I can do all things including moving forward from my failures and looking to His steadfast love and mercies that are new every morning.
Why did God save me? Because He is good. Because He is merciful. Because He is grace. Because He is God. And I will boast in the Lord.”
What a place I was in. What a place I have come from. What a place I am now in. Very humbled. Very thankful. I encourage you to look back on your journey. Not just your physical journey, but the spiritual one. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to start one.
I also encourage you to find a mentor. I have the privilege of being surrounded by biblical women who guide me in truth on a daily basis. I also have the privilege of speaking truth into other women’s lives. Is this truth for you? We are all called as Christians to not only walk along side other women and encourage them, but to have wiser women speaking truth into our lives. I encourage you to not only be under the guidance of an older, wiser woman, but to be available to the younger lady who is looking to you. Whether you feel completely adequate or not. What a beautiful calling this is, to walk the walk…together.
Pray for me as I walk this out, as I will be praying for you.
Now go take a walk in the woods… or on the beach. Who knows what you might discover.