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. We feel abandoned.
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. After we had finished our lunch, I gave the kids permission to play among the trees, 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 my third-born, 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-n-seek and that David was “it,” but as I watched, it became apparent my little one wasn’t counting — he was crying. 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 that 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. We may not always know what lies around the next bend, we may not fully perceive God’s abiding presence, we may not understand the route He asks us to follow, but we can rest assured that He loves us, that He guides our steps, and that His eyes are upon us the entire way.
“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)