I was hunting in the mountains one year and had been successful, but by the time I was done gutting and prepping the moose, it was dark and I was several miles from the camp.
I had stalked the moose most of the day and killed him near sunset. Now the excitement was over. I needed to go back to camp.
To backtrack was to risk getting lost. I knew that to get back safely I needed a guide. That guide would be the slope of the mountain and eventually the creek that ran the valley. Once there I would cross the stream, find the trail on the other side and then know where I was.
The first couple hours working downhill through the alders in the dark was uncomfortable. I was listening but heard no water sounds.
My mind played tricks on me and I thought I was turned around.
"Move on," I would think, and the slope would drop again; eventually the sound of the water came. The water became my guide and in due time I was by the fire at camp.
My friends were worried as it was long after dark and some had gone out looking for me. I felt bad. They were working the trail to the west. I had followed the stream right into camp.
The truth is that in order to be safe that night I had to leave the familiar and let the slope and the water be my guide.
This reminds me of the Christian life.
So often we like the security of the familiar, but it will not get us to where we need to go. I thank God regularly for the uniqueness he has given his body and the way his life is expressed in so many ways. The problem I see is that at times, to engage what God is doing, we must launch out and let the river be our guide.
Where we were is not where we are. Where we are is not where we are going. We have never been this way before.
Our nation, the church, we are all in uncharted waters. The earth shakes, the nations watch and people are searching in the dark trying to find direction.
In Proverbs 3:5, the Bible says to trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said it is good for us that he goes away. He said he will come to us to be our guide and counselor and teacher. He also said his Spirit would flow like a river out of us and we would hear his voice.
I have learned when I am in a tough spot to listen for the sound of the river. What is God trying to say through the situation? What is the next step? Where am I? How will I get from here to there?
He gently says, "Trust and obey. Listen to the sound of the river."
Jesus sent his Spirit so we could all engage him wherever we are.
He will lead us through the difficulties life brings us if we listen to his voice and step out in faith. Faith needs an activity to be faith. It is demonstrated when we obey.
Life is an adventure and its challenges can be hard, but God will lead us as we listen for the river.
Robert Reasner is senior pastor at Abundant Life in Sterling. Abundant Life is at Mile 81.5 of the Sterling Highway. The phone number is 262-7266 and Reasner can be reached at www.abundantlifealaska.org.
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