Trails and trees. Butterflies flitting from flower to flower. Animals scampering across the earth. The songs of birds and trills of frogs. I love to hike, to take in the sights and sounds of creation. While a hike away from the chaos of normal life is refreshing, one can’t be totally unaware as they trek through nature. In Michigan, there aren’t many worries about coming into contact with dangerous critters like venomous snakes, but observance is necessary for other things. For this klutzy chic, the most dangerous possibility of a hike is tripping over a root. Typically roots lie underground, but inevitably on a hike a gnarly root appears across the trail, a perfect opportunity to be sent somersaulting across the ground, seeing stars as you conk your head and ending up with knees that look like hamburger.
Yesterday, I was sitting in an office waiting for a friend. There was a hanging on the wall with the words “Blessed are those who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” They are a portion of Psalm 89:15. As I read those words, my mind was immediately filled with a picture—a nighttime hike. I could see a trail surrounded by the outline of trees, darkness hiding all that would have been seen during the day, including those gnarly roots that threaten to take down the unsuspecting hiker even when the sun is shining on the trail. In the dark, there is so warning, no looking ahead to plan your steps. Those roots could be disastrous—hit head, broken ankle, etc.
My vision didn’t end in the disaster of the hiker tripping over a hidden root, being left hurt and alone on the trail. Instead, I saw Jesus on the trail. As the hiker walked with Him, the next steps were illumined by His presence. The roots didn’t disappear. They were still ugly and a little scary as shadows of darkness danced around them, but in the light of His presence, they no longer threatened to take the hiker down. The hiker could safely navigate to smoother ground.
What a powerful illustration of walking in the presence of the Lord! Life holds many twists and turns, gnarly roots that could be disastrous—trouble with finances, marital strife, abuse, illness, loss, addiction, trauma, repressed memories, PTSD, the list goes on and on. Walking with Jesus doesn’t make any of these things disappear. They are ugly and scary. However, as we walk with Him, He prepares us for the next step, helps us maneuver so none of these things has to be the end of us, but seasons we navigate until we reach the other side. What is on the other side? Freedom, refreshment, joy, beauty!
I pray that today each of us, myself included, will walk in the Presence of the Lord and be blessed as He lights our way.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. –Psalm 89:15, NIV