"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." (Ralph Waldo Emerson) I recently spent a few days up in the high country, doing a little exploring and hiking down some pretty well-marked trails. There were a couple trails which appeared to be trails, but it was unclear where they led as they were not blazed by those who set out the park system trails and therefore, they weren't on the map. They looked promising, but without knowing where they led, it was a gamble to take one of them, especially in bear country! The thing which became very apparent to me was that someone before me made that trail. There was a sense of intrigue in something they believed to be down that path that they struck off in that direction. In time, they traveled it enough that it became worn into a noticeable path. The world needs those willing to blaze a path where others have not traveled - when they do, new discoveries are made!
Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me, and guide me down Your path forever. (Psalm 139:23-24 VOICE)
As we went into the National Parks, the rangers handed us trail maps and maps of the various parks we visited. Why? They wanted us to be informed, safe, and armed with the information which could very well preserve our lives in the end. As we made our way around some of the trails, they directed us to look for "guide marks" on the path which would ensure us we were still on the marked route. As we glanced down the path, we could see these trail-markers pretty well, helping us to stay on course to finish the loop of trail as intended. The map gave us a general sense of the length of the trail, the terrain we'd need to hike through/over, and the ability to "orient" ourselves to direction we were headed. God's Word is much the same for us - it helps to orient us in the direction which is best for us to travel!
Before those trail maps were prepared for our use, there was someone who prepared the trail. The ones who went before us made the passage a little easier, removing obstacles and placing those markers along the route. In much the same way, God prepared paths for each of us to travel complete with various "markers" which will help us to navigate safely through those pathways. If we are honest here, we have done a little "trail-blazing" of our own in this life. We have chosen to go a different route, maybe not even knowing what was down that path we were embarking on, but determined to make the discovery ours. At times, that worked out okay for us, but not so much because of something we did, but because God watched over us as we blazed that trail! Trail-blazing sometimes doesn't turn our that well - because the trail was too hard for our endurance, ended in a place we didn't really want to be, or just plain presented so many dangers we barely came out alive!
In our journey through life, we aren't always committed to looking at the map, are we? We often do a little more "trail-blazing" than we might like to admit, but not every one of those trails ends as we imagine when we set out on that path. When I am out in nature, my camera is in my hand. Why? I want to be ready to capture the beauty around me, never really knowing what I will discover, but open to the discovery. I like to photograph the birds, trees, and even the effects of the elements on the surface of the ground. There is something of beauty in almost everything I can behold - from the desert stones to the majestic pines. So, every path for me is one of discovery, even when someone has gone before me to clearly mark it out!
In everyday life, every path is an opportunity for discovery, but sometimes we will discover what others haven't - simply because we have eyes to see what others may have missed totally. It may be the small creature inching across the path, or the tiny marks left by birds seeking their meal. It could be the truth we so desperately need, or the vision to do what has been left undone by others. Perhaps it is the clarity we seek, or the purpose we must discover, but regardless of what it is, the means to "knowing" is by being attentive to our path. The discovery is only possible when we are observant! Just sayin!