Family Matters: Stick to the Path
Proverbs 20:24 reads, “How can we understand the road we travel? It is the Lord who directs our steps.”
If we consider a hike through the woods as a metaphor for the Christian walk, it is easy to understand our need to stay on the narrow way. To leave that path is to risk danger, disorientation, and destruction. That makes sense. We get it.
What is surprising is that we can sometimes feel lost and alone, even when we’ve been careful to stick to the path and not wander off. Sometimes life’s circumstances deal heavy blows, and we cannot begin to imagine God’s purpose in allowing such things to affect us. Sometimes we feel abandoned. Forsaken. Forgotten.
I remember taking my children on an outing to the park many years ago. We packed a picnic and ate in the cool shade of the woods surrounding the playground.
In reality, these “woods” were really just a small clump of trees. A paved sidewalk wound its way through to join one section of the park to another.
Still, the trees were thick enough that my children could easily imagine lions and tigers and bears prowling among them. Perhaps a sneaky wolf, clad in spectacles and a flannel nightgown. Or an old crone sweeping the front step of her gingerbread cottage. Or a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to civilization.
And so, after we had finished our lunch, the kids begged for permission to play among the trees. I agreed, provided they stay where I could see them. They enjoyed a rousing game of tag with friends while moms visited nearby.
After a while, I noticed one of my sons, who was only four or five at the time, standing next to a tree with his hands over his face. At first, I assumed the children had moved on to hide-and-seek and that my little boy was “it.” But as I watched, it became apparent he wasn’t counting — he was crying.
He’d Lost Sight of Me
Although my eyes had been on him the entire time, he’d lost sight of me and had become frightened. I ran to comfort and reassure him. Just because he couldn’t see me didn’t mean I had quit watching him.
I like to reflect on that distant afternoon as I travel along life’s path, especially when the way seems dark or threatening. When our path descends into the valley of the shadow of death. When evil seems to lurk on every side.
At times like that, we may not know what lies around the next bend. We may not fully perceive God’s abiding presence. We may not always understand the route He asks us to follow.
But we can take comfort in the knowledge that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he falls, he will not be cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
We can rest assured that God will never leave or forsake us. Rather, He loves us. He guides our steps. And even (especially) when the path seems lonely, His eyes are upon us the entire time.
Jennifer Flanders still enjoys picnics and parks and playing tag in the woods. To read more from this author, please visit https://www.flandersfamily.info .