The woods that my Labrador and I walk in on a daily basis just threw us our annual curveball. Throughout the winter and early spring, we have been able to see far ahead through the leafless trees. Being able to know exactly what was ahead gave us a sense of security, comfort, and control. In the last couple of days, the leaves have matured to full capacity and have blinded us to whom or what might be around the next bend on our winding path.
These newly flaunted leaves bring a touch of the unknown to our morning ritual and the unknown brings a bit of anxiousness. My dog likes to run ahead to make sure that the coast is clear. Lately, she has been giving me this look like “Oh my gosh something big is ahead of us… Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” (Yes, we are one of those families where the dogs are almost considered people.) With our sight impaired, we walk more cautiously. If we sense danger, do we retreat, change direction or proceed ahead?
Our path is traveled by hikers, cyclists, runners and dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments. (Note: the temperament of the dog often matches that of their owner) and the woods are inhabited by all sorts of creatures great and small. Only occasionally is there any kind of strange animal threat. A few years ago a bear was spotted around our neighbor’s bird feeder. (Very rare) Last year we had a coyote that stalked and attacked one of our sweet neighborhood dogs (He’s ok, in case you are worried). This morning, in broad daylight I heard an oddly, screeching fox sound getting louder and louder. I had to make a choice. Do we remain on course or do we retreat? I chose retreat, sensing that dealing with a rabid fox could put a damper on our day. I’m grateful the little fox gave us a warning.
In addition to the people and animal adventures, nature often delivers the unforeseen as well. Have you ever heard the old riddle: “When a tree falls in the woods when no one is around does it make a sound?” I’d say, quite confidently, yes! When walking with my kids on this same path an enormous tree suddenly toppled…BOOM! Its tippy top was about five feet in front of us. After the wow factor and thanking God for keeping us out of harm’s way, I thought… Phew! No warning. If we were ten paces further….
We don’t like to be caught “blind-sided”, we prefer to be “bright-sided”. (Good news only please!) How about an early warning system for life to give us a heads up when something scary is coming our way? But that’s not how it works, does it? When life’s toughest challenges sneak up from around the corners on your path, (poor health, death of a loved one, addiction, depression, chronic pain, divorce, wayward child, loss of a job, etc.) are you prepared? While there never is a perfect picture, a perfect life or a perfect person, there is a perfect God. It is during these precarious times in life that we most need to know and understand our faith. God’s word tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. A friend said to me the other day, there is no better news than the “Good News”. (Amen!) When you are steeped in God’s word, the Holy Spirit is able to fill you with that lovely peace that surpasses all understanding and gives us power to endure.
This week is a good time to meditate on scripture that grounds you in your faith. No matter how dark or how bright your path seems to be, the God of love is right there with you. (Note: You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to do this.)
Write your favorite verse(s) on an index card and put it in a place where you can see it. (I will put one on my dog’s collar.)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“It is so strange. Everything can be going along just great, and then one day, WHACK, you’re blindsided – a lousy, crummy blow you didn’t see coming.” James Patterson, Author
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9