By the second afternoon, I felt I had a sense of that direction and was filled with the joy of God’s peace and presence. The sun was shining, the birds chirping, the evergreens especially green, and the scent of pine filled the air. All was right with the world and my soul!
To expand my time of solitude with God, I decided to go hiking. On a map, I found a two mile trail called “Eagle’s Landing,” which noted an ocean view. I was off and running (well, make that walking fast)!
After about one mile the trail turned into a dirt road that didn’t seem quite right. Consulting the map, I discovered I was in the wrong place. Flooded with frustration, I retraced my steps. I was nearly back at the beginning before I saw the trail I should have been on.
This new trail was tougher. The incline was steeper, and the trail at times so narrow that I feared I had made another mistake. Right about then, I reached a clearing and saw other travelers who affirmed, “Yep, this is the way to Eagle’s Landing.”
I pressed on with renewed energy, eager to see the ocean. It wasn’t long, however, before I had to slow down because the trail had become even more challenging. Surely, I must be near the top, I thought. I was tired, but motivated by the vision of a destination soon to be in sight.
But, I was wrong. The trail continued to twist and turn. And, each turn mocked me as the last one, because I could not see beyond the bend.
Finally, winded, hot and aching, I saw up ahead a clearing that had to be the top. It turned out only to be a plateau, though. I still had to take a flight of stairs to reach a deck, hence the name, “Eagle’s Landing,” I guess. But, I had made it.
Except, there was no ocean view!!
I knew the direction of the ocean, but it was hidden by a blanket of trees. As if that blanket enveloped me, somehow, I was profoundly disappointed.
“But isn’t this beautiful?” I heard God say as I plopped on the bench and reflected with Him.
“Yes…,” I sulked. “But I really wanted to see the ocean.”
“I know. But this is beautiful, too.” He said, “Look more closely.”
I peered at the view and had to agree. It was breathtaking. The sun was still shining and the sky, now completely visible, the deepest of blues. And, the evergreens looked even more splendid with the gradations of color from above.
It was indeed beautiful – just not what I was looking forward to seeing.
“And we’re here together,” God added. “Isn’t that the most important thing?”
I took in a deep breath, and exchanged the shattered expectation for the humbled contentment of that truth.
This experience has come back to me recently because I feel I’m reliving that retreat in my business life right now. We’ve been steady and had a great year overall. I’ve been filled with joy and gratitude for all God has done, much like the first half of my retreat.
But for the last three months, I’ve been on that hike! I’ve felt lost at times, have had to regroup, have consulted the map of God’s Word, and have been encouraged by fellow hikers. But the trail has continued to be challenging. I keep coming upon bends in the road, and I have no clue how much more of the trail lies ahead before I’ll reach the “destination” I envisioned for this year.
I know God is with me, though. And I know he will lead me to the destination HE has prepared.
But these darn expectations! Releasing them, taking the trail as it comes and staying close to God for direction is not an easy task. In fact, right now I’m aching and tired, (and sometimes I feel like turning around!)
Even so, I don’t want to miss the beauty of this journey because I’m fixated on a faulty vision.
Rather, I’m trying to trust and focus on God so his vision becomes mine.
God and I are on this journey together, and that’s the most important thing. The rest will fall in place.
So don’t worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need [these things]. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)