“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 straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (English Standard Version)
I haven’t written in a while. January is one of my favorite months of the year. For me, it’s normally a quiet month, a month to glance backwards and forwards—an examination of where you’ve been and where you’re going. A month to refuel the creative fires. Can you relate?
This year my January has been a nightmarish forest fire. I’ve had my water hose out attempting to put out the flames created by three teenage sons. Whew! I’m still smelling the smoke. In the midst of the disciplining, redirecting, and problem solving my husband went on a week-long hunting trip to Spain.
I about knocked him over when he walked jet-lagged through the door. “Don’t leave me with Them again.” I said. Although, I know he will next year because I married a man who needs his “man thing” on occasion. I’m looking forward to handing off the water hose when I leave him for a week in May, for a writing conference. Tit for tat.
January hasn’t been all lost, I’ve been steadily working on my memoir, which includes a lot of glancing back at my rural childhood. This week, I’ve been remembering our house on Mockingbird Lane and the woods and creek behind it.
There was a clear trail that ran through them– a straighter path–but for some reason we preferred to trample through the briars and thicket, collecting our share of scratches and scars along the way.
Down the hill, where the forest became flat, there was a rushing creek. If we were to cross it, we’d risk stepping in dark waters, an encounter with a water moccasin, or a slip into the rushing waters. But the other side seemed to call to us. Over there, the tall trees flanked each side of a small clearing where the sun settled.
My brother Brandon decided he’d build a bridge. My sister, Tricia, and I carried 2×4’s and odd scraps through the cleared trail and laid the pieces one by one at Brandon’s feet. Within a week, a beautiful bridge was built complete with railings.
That bridge made our forest so much larger than it had been before. With the bridge in place, we had bountiful acres to explore and our adventures never ended.
With my boys I’ve wondered why in life are we tempted to take the treacherous path that leads to wounds and scars instead of staying on the already cleared one that God has provided for us? He clears the way for us to carry our burdens and sins and lay them at the Master Craftsman’s feet. Here, Jesus Christ becomes the bridge over darkness, poisonous sins, and the slippery rush a of culture, to a more abundant life.
I can relate to my boys. I had and have rebellious tendencies. I had a friend in my twenties who called me a “rebel without a clue.” I had a strong desire to explore against the worn trail of convention. I may have acquired my share of scratches and scars during that time, but I also gained wisdom, a growth in faith, and stories to tell of a God who shined a light in the thicket to show me the way out.
A wise friend told me, “Look at it this way, if we put our kids in a bubble protecting them from making mistakes, then we will kill what God is trying to teach them and their potential testimonies in the process.” (Thank you Yvonne Zavada) Unfortunately, some of us are built to learn the hard ways.
This verse God has placed in front of me multiple times in January. Maybe you’re having a January like mine, and you could use it too.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV
Bracing myself for that one’s teenage years. sigh!
See you when the smoke clears…