Proverbs 16:9 says “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (ESV)
We hiked up one side of a mountain and down the other with our four children last week.
Halfway up, my oldest son eyed the road ahead and made an observation: why not skip the switchbacks and head straight up? Isn’t it a waste to keep going back and forth?
Always up for a challenge, I agreed, pulled our one-year-old on to my back and headed straight up the mountain. It didn’t take long before the lesson was clear.
My legs and lungs burning, I wiped the sweat from the brow and explained breathlessly that the switchbacks are there for a reason. The mountain is too steep and switchbacks make the climb bearable.
How often in our walk with Christ do we decide we’re going to take on the mountain ahead of us in the hardest way possible – straight up? How often do we attempt to circumvent a trial or a journey that He has us walking because we see the top of the mountain and we want to be there – NOW.
In the dessert, the Israelites had been given a beautiful promise – keep moving forward and I will bring you to a land of plenty. But several times along the way, they simply couldn’t wait. They wanted the fastest way through the heat, the lack of food, the wandering.
In Exodus 13, God freed the Israelites from their bondage, but instead of taking them the quickest way to the Promised Land (through the land of the Philistines), he had them take the roundabout way to the Red Sea. In doing so, he averted conflict with the Philistines and led them straight to one of the greatest miracles documented in the Bible – the parting of the Red Sea.
There is always a purpose and a plan in His route. In our spiritual journey, when we don’t take the time to discern which way God wants to lead us up a mountain or through a dessert, we suffer more than burning lungs.
We miss out on growth He intended. We miss out on miracles. We miss out on relationships that never developed because we walked ahead of people He wanted us to walk alongside. Or, we don’t listen, rush to the top of the mountain and are too weary and exhausted to enjoy the blessing He prepared for us.
Whatever season of life you are in, whether it feels like a valley of rest or a trial, faithfully seek His guidance – in His Word and in prayer – and He will determine the perfect route.
Today’s author, Kayla Gahagan, is a freelance writer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When she’s not chasing her four kiddos, dancing, or hiking with her hubby, her nose is in a good book.