On Friday, as I again went about my merry way, pouring my heart out to God and enjoy the lovely weather, I was met by three approaching bicyclists, who each warned me about a snake on the trail ahead. I thanked them and acted as if it were no big deal, but immediately, I was on full alert. My mind began to spin. Was it the same baby snake I'd seen earlier in the week? Could they have seen such a small snake from their bikes at that speed? Was the snake actually on the trail or just off to the side? What kind of snake are we talking about exactly? And how big?
No matter how hard I tried, I could no longer focus on my prayers. My eyes darted back and forth across the trail. I searched the grass on either side. I watched for any movement. That silly snake became all I could think about, and here's the real kicker--I never found it! Nope, all the way back, I searched and anticipated the snake, but I never came across it. Either the bicyclists had scared it enough that it returned to its natural habitat, or it was only crossing the road to get to the other side (no chicken jokes here, I promise). Whatever the case, he was nowhere to be found, and I lost a good 20 minutes of my prayer time over that creepy critter.
Fortunately, the Lord also used the situation to teach me a valuable lesson. There is a reason He doesn't tell us about every bend in the road ahead and every heartache that is awaiting us in the future. There is a purpose for him not showing us the master blueprint of our lives, complete with all its twists and turns, ups and downs. And the reason, I believe, is this: that's all we would concentrate on.
If we knew there was a pitfall ahead, we would spend all of our time thinking about it. What kind of pitfall will it be? Is it big or small? Is it similar to something I've been through before? We would watch and wait, at every turn expecting to come upon trouble. And just as my snake-watching did, that intense focus would rob us of our joy, energy and time with God. It would overwhelm us. Anxiety and anticipation would permeate every fiber of our being to the point that we would be just about useless in accomplishing anything else.
Once I was off the trail Friday, and back in my neighborhood, I spend the rest of the walk home praising God for this beautiful reminder. I don't need to see the future; I only need to trust the One who holds it. And despite how many times I think I want to know all the answers, Friday's snake encounter (or snake non-encounter, as the case turned out to be) reminds me that knowing is not always that great a thing. After all, if I hadn't known there was a snake ahead, I would have continued in my prayer time and enjoyed my beautiful morning walk. Knowing about that crazy snake changed everything: my focus, my attitude and my gaze.
My friend, sometimes it's hard to face the unknown. I get that. I really do. But now I see that sometimes it's better not to know. It's better to simply trust the One who does know. He understands the dangers ahead, and He'll keep us from harm. And when life seems overwhelming, remember that not only does Jesus know the way, He is the way! That's all we need to know.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. - Psalm 37:5