Monday, May 31, 2010

A friend indeed

A short couple of months ago, I became friends with someone who has since become one of my favorite people to talk to. The events leading up to my acknowledgement of this friend's existence were odd, to say the least, and yet somehow it shows, to me, how God can place certain people in one's life at specific points in time for special reasons.

For me, this friend has not only been there for joking and laughter, but also for listening and questioning. This friend has helped me realize the importance of truthfulness, a quality that I valued before and now value more than ever. This friend has played Devil's Advocate numerous times in an effort to show me the loopholes in my arguments about whatever we have been discussing, and has also helped keep me accountable for many of my actions. And how refreshing it is to sit down to a frank (even brutally honest) conversation with someone who can give you a second perspective of yourself!

If you are this friend (and you know who you are, if you are) and you are reading this, know that you have made a greater difference in my life than you think. I thank God for you daily.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Straying from the path

I meant to post this blog post on Monday, but never got around to it. So here it is now, and I'll try to recount it the way it should be recounted to the best of my ability.

I decided one afternoon to go walk around in the woods, so I went to the park and started meandering around the woods. Well, the path I decided to take ended up forking, so I chose the path to the right and kept walking, walking, walking through the woods.

A brief note: I have never been very far in the woods before until this point.

I found myself positively enthralled with nature and the beauty of the wildlife, all of the plants and insects and occasional bird or other animal. I marvelled at how some of the trees would bend to form arches that I could walk under. I had my camera out and kept snapping pictures here and there (all of which I planned on uploading to Facebook later that day).

Another sidenote: All I had with me were my camera and my keys. No phone. Smart move...

I even found myself in a meadowlike clearing, and I just kept walking and walking through the woods, coming to an open field where I saw a deer. It was all so quiet besides the sounds of wildlife around me and the praises and songs that I sometimes whispered out loud to God. It was all so fantastic, and such a thrill to someone who had never been so lost in the forest before. Yes, I was lost. I was not sure at all how to get back. But I couldn't have wandered that far away, right? All I would need to do would be to circle around and arrive where I started.

Well, I ended up in a place where I had no clue where to go. I kept taking paths and felt myself straying farther and farther from where I wanted to go. Two hours into the hike I had taken, and I was beginning to worry about where I was. I never saw the same scene twice around me, so I never knew if I was retracing my steps or not. The more I wandered, the more lost I felt, and I eventually found myself praying that, even though I was on a path that had to lead somewhere, God would somehow help me find my way out of the forest. I even ended up climbing way up high up some steep, sand-like terrain in order to try to figure out where I was and try to keep to the path I was on. I nearly fell several times, and would have slipped and fallen down the steep hill I had been standing on had I not grabbed onto some trees in order to keep myself upright. I kept snapping pictures as I walked along, but at this point some of the fun had seeped out of the experience and was replaced by worry. And it was at this point that I felt a nudge inside me: This is a real-life experience of what it is like to "wander off the path," to stray from God.

I eventually found a bike path that I followed until I reached a different park that I knew. I breathed a sign of relief. At least I knew where I was! Thank you, God! The only problem was that this park was about two miles from the other park I started in. Had I really wandered that far? So I found a large sign that had a trail map on it, and I discovered that all I needed to do to get back to the park I started in was keep to the gravel path. So I made my way back into the woods. I stayed on the gravel path, and every time I came to a clearing and knew where I was, I found myself breathing sighs of relief. I was almost back! I almost wanted to shout out in joy.

There was such a sweet relief when I returned to the park, went to my car, and sat down. Much like, I found myself thinking, when one who has strayed from God finally stops wandering and returns onto God's path and runs back into His arms. It was an amazing day, and I am so grateful for this real-life metaphor of what it means to stay on His path for me.

I leave you, reader, with a verse I thought of when I was walking back after I looked at the map... Matthew 7:13-14 = "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."