I blinked and it is April…actually most of April is over. Kristy and I just got back from a whirlwind trip down to Wichita for couple nights, back through Kansas City for a couple nights, up to Omaha for a few nights and over through Des Moines for a quick lunch before heading back home. The Omaha portion of our trip was for a new leadership program that Kristy and I were invited into. The program is PLI – Missional Leader (PLI stands for Pastoral Leadership Institute).
It was a great time for a number of reasons, but the thing that made the biggest impression on me was a statement that was said in passing. I don’t even really know if I am quoting it verbatim, but It has lodged in my mind as follows: “The path is made by walking in it.” The moment I heard it, it struck me. I am not exactly sure why it has made such an impression. Perhaps it is the proverb-like nature that is so appealing to me. Whatever the case, it doesn’t so much represent a new learning for me as much as a simple way to relate the essence of a deeply held philosophy of mine. The more you walk a certain path in life the easier it is to follow. When you travel unfamiliar routes, it can be confusing and even scary. Well lit, well-traveled paths make for the path of least resistance (for better or worse). Whereas, dimly lit, seldom-traveled paths almost always seem suspect if not difficult to follow.
When I play disc golf at a new course, it is easy to get lost as I try to find my way from one hole to the next. Sometimes there are good markers or maps to help navigate the course. Other times I have the help of a friend or a friendly stranger to guide me. And still other times I just have to go with my gut and try to follow the beaten path as best I can.
I remember my first time at the course on the Crown College campus. There are at least four places where I was completely clueless the first time I went there. Luckily, I was with friends who were familiar with the way. I have experienced going to other courses for my first visits on my own. Sometimes there are maps, but for some reason they never seem as easy to navigate in reality as they do on paper. By far, the best way to navigate new and uncertain terrain is with the guidance of a trusted friend, who has traveled the path before and knows where to go. I should, however, add that being with some friends can give you a false sense of security. When none of you really know the right path, you can get caught up in the whole blind leading the blind thing.
The courses I am most familiar with, I of course need no help to find my way around. Even when there are no clear signs, and the way I know to be right would seem to be strange and make no sense at all to someone unfamiliar with the course, I can trust that I am in fact going the right way, because I have walked the way many times before.
This is perhaps the best way I can find to describe my experience living out my faith in God. When I encounter new situations and the right course is not easily discernible it is easy to get frustrated, lost or confused. When I have clear signs or directions to guide me it is a little less wary. But regardless of the situation I know I am not alone and I have a true friend who knows the way.
My family and I are on a new course in life as it were. We have been praying for God’s guidance and discernment in this time of uncertainty. There has been a lot of worry and frustration occupying our thoughts as of late. And so, the phrase that stuck in my mind has brought me a little peace and clarity. “The path is made by walking in it.” I have followed God’s direction in my life many times before, and He has never steered me wrong. In that sense, I have walked this dim, narrow path before. Even though it is new and unknown to me, it seems strangely familiar. And there is some comfort in that.
My hope and trust is that as I continue to walk according to God’s direction down the unknown paths of my life, the path will seem to get if not a little brighter, at least a little wider from the wear. After all, the path is made by walking in it.