Monday, July 9, 2018
A few weeks ago, I was hiking in NC. I came around a corner and saw this! I am not sure the photo does justice to how massive the tree was that had fallen and was blocking the trail. When you got right up to it, the truck was as tall as I am. I have been prayerfully considering this image for the past few days. So often when we reach an obstacle in life, we can tend to think:
1. I have done something wrong or that I have failed!
2. I will never be able to get over or around this obstacle!
3. I will never be able to clean the whole mess up...look how large it is!
This is why, I love what those who maintain the trail did in response to the tree.
1. They didn't assume they had failed or done something wrong. Trees fall in the midst of storms. Obstacles happen as we are hiking life's trail. And we can get angry, upset, frustrate, blame, hoot and holler all we want...but in the end the choice is either press forward or turn back. To be sure, there are times when it is safer and wiser to turn back. But there are also times we need to not let the obstacles...no matter how large...stop us.
2. Those who work the trail knew they couldn't just expect people to hoist themselves over the tree. They could have built steps and a bridge over it. But ultimately, they cut away just enough to keep the trail going. To be sure, that was still a lot of work! When we come to obstacles, real ones, it will take effort and energy to work through. No obstacle, worthy the name, will be overcome without struggle and sweat. Yet, I can only imagine the sense of relief and joy when the work was done. When we face obstacles, it takes persistence and patience to push through. I can image the chain saw might have needed to be sharpened or the workers had to rest. It wasn't just a few minute process. Yet, they got through.
3. But, the workers did not feel the need to cut through the all of the tree. As a matter of fact, they left the vast majority of it. How often, when facing obstacles, do we think we need to solve every thing...right now...or we have done something wrong and failed? Notice how that line of thinking can lead you back to #1 above, which can make you feel like you are stuck in a vicious cycle or some kind of analysis paralysis. Is there some way through the obstacle, dealing with what can be dealt with today? Is there are portion or piece that is most important? There is no formula to be applied to all times and places, simply questions we can prayerfully ponder.
I think this is true not only for our individual lives, but also our collective lives as well. So often we want to solve big issues (discrimination or violence) right now...right away. Rather than realizing that the power has been in the process...and the process is always two steps forward, one back.
What obstacles are you facing right now? Maybe it is your health (physically, mentally, emotionally) or maybe it is spiritual struggle or maybe it is a relationship. Is there something you can do or is it time to turn around?
It is my prayer that you will sense more than a trace of God's grace and guidance and especially love in these days.