November 1:  Proverbs 16:9


Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

by: Brian Bethke

Walking an unknown trail can be disconcerting. Last year, Erica and I climbed Mt. San Antonio in California. The over 10,000-foot summit was our goal. Neither of us had ever climbed Mt. San Antonio. To prepare for our climb Erica read some blogs, called the Ranger station, and bought a map. After some discussion, we looked at the map and planned our route. As we ascended the mountain the reality of the task ahead of us became apparent. The steepness of the trail had me questioning our route selection. When we approached the infamous “Devil’s Backbone”, a portion of the trail where it gets narrow, steeper, and rocky, discouragement reared its ugly head. At one point on a narrow part of the trail Erica gazed at the 9,000-foot drop and became dizzy. My doubts on the trail selection now carried with it a concern for my wife’s safety. There were times when the trail seemed to disappear. At those moments, I knew the best thing was to look to the summit and just keep on walking. I kept telling myself that the hard part of this journey would be over once we reached the summit. Downhill would be easy.

After a short celebration with a PB&J sandwich at the summit we began our trek down the mountain. We decided to avoid Devil’s Backbone and head down an alternate, shorter trail. My plan was to coast and let gravity do the work. Within five minutes of the decent I was doing zero coasting and began wrestling with gravity, rocks, and an even steeper angle then Devil’s Backbone. How could I have missed this on the map? I was an experienced at orienteering and reading contour lines on a map. With every step, I felt like my ankle would snap, my knee would dislocate, and my balance would fail (I fell or almost fell at least 50 times). This was not my plan! This was supposed to be easy. As I fought frustration, pain, and muscle fatigue I decided to look up. I realized that during my accent, and now my decent, I had failed to admire the beauty of the experience. I was so worried about the trail selection, my pain, and fatigue that I did not enjoy the path I was traveling. I did not bask in the fact that I had just climbed one of the biggest mountains in California, and I got to do it with my favorite person. I never planned to do this but nonetheless I was there. After all what was I so worried about? All I had to do was put on foot in front of the other and head downhill.

Christian, the unknown trails of life can be disconcerting. We have life goals and life plans that direct our life climb. Things are rarely what they seem. Often times we question our decisions, especially when those we love our impacted by our decisions. We tell ourselves that once we get to a certain point of our plan everything will be easy. Many of us survive from one promised mountain top to another. We soon realize that the easy times we thought we would have are not so easy. Spiritual frustration, emotion fatigue, and physical pain mask the reality of the accomplishment and beauty of the journey. We forget about those God has put in our lives to experience the journey with us. We forget to rest in God’s sovereign providence. Instead we wrestle needlessly with our plan, missing the blessings He has so generously put in our lives. After all, all we have to do is look unto Christ and put one foot in front of the other.

Are you resting in God’s plan or wrestling with yours?


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  1. Reply
    Roselle Heckendorn says

    “Instead we wrestle needlessly with our plan, missing the blessings He has so generously put in our lives” This echoes what I read in Psalm 119:139 this morning “My zeal wears me out” – when its “my” zeal I get worn out, but God gives me his energy even when I am exhausted, when I step out in faith trusting in Him.
    Thanks as always for the image of the hike up what sounds like a very daunting mountain and the application to our lives as Christ followers – I find your images and stories stick with me long after I have read or heard them.

  2. Reply
    Holly Carman says

    I agree with Roselle about the imagery in your stories.

    Thank you, Lord, that you never leave us to journey alone.

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