Rocky Roads . . .

Desert Sunset3Have you ever traveled on a very bumpy road for any length of time?  As I’ve mentioned in prior devotions, my husband and I enjoy off-roading and four-wheeling.  We don’t often do the hard core rock crawling but on one particular trip, we were on a trail that rapidly disintegrated into a rocky dry stream bed.

Some of the most important principles of this kind of trail running is not to go alone (only one vehicle); have plenty of extra gas and water, and make sure you will complete an unknown trail before dark.  Now, those aren’t hard and fast rules, but they are certainly good advice.  So, on this one trip, we had basically laid aside our better judgement and broken each rule.

On the GPS and on paper (yes, we use real maps!) the trail seemed to come out at a good place and we figured we would be well out of it before dark.

Recent storms and lack of any official trail maintenance had changed the dynamics of the trail.  We came to a point where we weren’t sure which direction to go.  We were fighting just to find a way out of a canyon and the dry stream bed.

Dusk cast long shadows onto the red rock walls above us and as the trail disappeared, my husband and his best friend, both experienced four-wheelers, left me with the vehicle (and a weapon) and walked ahead to scout a route we could follow to get out.  They needed a clear strategy to go forward.

I confess, I was a little nervous.  They weren’t gone very long, but it seemed like ages as the shadows grew longer and the color drained from my surroundings.  I felt quite alone.

When they returned, they came with good news.  The way out wasn’t too bad and it was close by.  We would make it out before dark.  The problem was that we just couldn’t see it from our vantage point.

Relieved, we started out on a very bumpy and rocky “road.”   The rocks, ruts and bumps took all of our attention and stamina.  The canyon walls completely faded to grey in the half light.

That kind of wheeling is very slow going.  Progress takes a long time.  Jangled nerves and white knuckles holding the handles make for a tense atmosphere.  You have to brace yourself for the hard hits and deep ruts.  Your body gets tossed around like a rag doll.

Maybe this doesn’t sound like much fun, but it can be quite exhilarating!  Once we rounded a blind “curve” (remember, there’s no actual road here) we could see the canyon open up and a nice open desert landscape lay before us.

Relief came first.  Then, the beauty of the sunset on the desert horizon, instead of the incessant bouncing, took our breath away.  We made it; none the worse for wear!

Pondering this recollection today, I realized the Lord gave me several object lessons to glean from the experience.  I believe the Lord was revealing, through this trip, several principles for our spiritual walk.

First of all, I’m a planner.  By nature, I like to design things and planning is something I enjoy.  However, for the past several years the Lord has been teaching me to be more spontaneous and to roll with the punches.

I admit, it’s really hard for me to shift, but I’m finding that those unplanned times can sometimes be the most exciting.  Although our rough trail ride skirted danger because of our lack of planning, it ended up being a very memorable experience.

Lately, I’ve realized there needs to be a balance.  Planning is not wrong, nor does it express a lack of faith.  But it must be tempered with a willingness to take risks even when you can’t see ahead clearly.  We need to reach out to the Lord for strategy and insight when we come to road blocks.

On our adventure, the guys had to have a change of perspective.  Since there were no road signs, they had to get out of the vehicle and look at what was ahead from outside our circumstances.

In order to navigate the trail ahead, we all had to get out of our comfort zone to look at everything from another viewpoint.  From this, I believe we need to recognize that, in Christ, this principle of moving ahead in the Spirit is paramount.  We have to rely on the One who sees far ahead of us on the journey and we can take great comfort in knowing that we are never alone!

Once we got rolling, the rocks and bumps caused us not to be able to focus on anything but getting from point A to point B.  It took all our effort just to keep from getting beat up along the way.  It took a long time to make progress, but we had to trust that it would be worth it in the end.  This process applies to us when we are on a rocky road in life.  It takes patience, endurance and faith.

The dimming light around us made the constraints of the canyon walls less apparent, so we could focus on the next part of the path.  We had to focus on the immediate circumstances around us, which made it hard to think long term.  We have to use this same principle in our walk with Christ.  Keeping our eyes on Jesus is crucial when you are in uncharted territory.  Trying to look too far ahead only confuses us in the process.

Four-wheelers have a saying, “put your front tire on the biggest rock.”  That allows your vehicle to keep from getting high centered and stuck as you go over all the other rocks.

I honestly felt like saying, “Just get me out of these rocks!”  But since we were able to persevere through the rocky trail, we were given a beautiful sunset and safe passage out of what could have been a very tight situation, in more ways than one.  God does this with us when we push through the hard times despite the pain and suffering.

He knows the path we’re on.  Every rock and bump is already taken into account.  He wants us to plan, but He also wants us to have faith in His ability to get us through and to make a place for spontaneous joy and adventure as we go.

He allows the rocky road and the pitfalls to teach us how to persevere in the midst of our trials (and our trails too.)  It may temporarily take our breath away in the process and keep us very aware of our circumstances, but in the end, He makes our path straight and usually has a beautiful, breathtaking glimpse of His glory on the horizon.

I believe one of the sweetest sentiments I received from this experience is that when we put our trust in our Rock Jesus, first, then we will avoid getting stuck.

When darkness falls all around us, if we stay the course and take time to re-evaluate when we come upon a fork in the road, He will make it clear which path we are to take.

If you’re on a rocky path, like I’ve been for awhile, especially in ministry, then I hope these simple object lessons will help you remember the truths.  My prayer for you today is that the Lord will reveal Himself to you despite whatever seemingly dead-end or rocky road you might find yourself on.

I pray you will allow Him to help you white knuckle through the tough trail by holding onto Him.  May His ever present help be evident in the midst of your uncertain paths and may you always recognize His presence as the biggest Rock to rely on and keep you from getting stuck along the rocky roads.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

Psalm 18:2  “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,  My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Isaiah, 26:4 & 7  ““Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”

“The way of the righteous is smooth;  O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.”

Proverbs 3:6  “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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