There are just two things I want to know when I start hiking a trail.
Where does it go?
And how hard will it be?
For me, the trail is a metaphor for life. For the passage of time. For choices made and not made.
I’m also fascinated by the fact that inverting just two letters in the word “trail” creates a word that is completely different and yet so closely related.
You see, it’s always during the times of trial in my life that the trail of my life is the most obscure. You know, those times when life throws a curve. In my case, it was the birth of a son with Down syndrome. Then, the loss of a career job. And later, a traumatic brain injury to my youngest daughter. For others, it’s a catastrophic illness, or the disintegration of a family.
The Bible teaches that God’s perspective on trials is 180 degrees from the world’s view.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4
How can James possibly expect us to rejoice in our trials? During times of trial, even the next single step is uncertain.
I’ve always loved the quote from Michelango when he said, as he was staring at a plain rectangular block of marble:
The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.
The same is true for each life’s trail, when faced with the apparently impassable jungle of a trial. The trail is already there; it’s been there since the beginning of time. No, it isn’t marked, at least not that you can see; but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been set out for you by God.
It’s during the times of trial that God allows us to participate in finding the trail where none appears to exist. So even though you don’t have a paper map, and the GPS on your phone doesn’t have what it takes, lean on and lean into God. He, through his Word, is your map.
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:104-105