The Path Unseen - A Repost in Memory of Tippy

Despite the rainy weather last Friday, Jason and I took the dogs on their favorite hiking trail. Mitch, as usual, was running up and down the sides of the mountain with the vitality of the Energizer bunny. Tippy started off at her leisurely pace, stopping every other step to smell something. But after her warm-up, she evidently decided she was ready to keep up with her brother.

I don't mind Mitch exploring because he has a better sense of direction than I do. He can travel for miles in the woods (off the trail, of course) and still meet us further up the trail. Tippy, on the other hand, has my sense of direction. She couldn't find her way out of a paper bag. If Mitch knows she's following him, he'll usually try to make sure he leads her back out, but sometimes the "explorer" in him forgets to watch out for his sister.

On Friday, it seemed like Tippy knew that Mitch was full of excessive energy, so even though she wandered up down in the woods, she never let us out of her sight. She was determined not to get lost. The funny thing was how she would come out of the woods. To get out of the woods, one has to go down a slope to get back on the trail. There are places where these slopes are very steep and other places where they aren't bad at all. Tippy would decide that she was ready to be out of the woods and go in search for a way down to the trail. Inevitably, she would walk back and forth along the edge of the slope and then pick the steepest part to come down. Thankfully, she's not too proud to slide down on her behind!

The part that makes it funny is that if she had just kept walking in either direction, she would have come to an easy slope to descend. She stopped too soon because she couldn't see the path ahead. Sound familiar?

Oh, how many times do we feel like giving up on life because we can't see the path ahead? Steep slopes surround us, and we panic. In our despair, we usually choose one of two actions: 1) We try to descend the steepest part of the slope and end up bruised and battered; 2) We sit down at the top of the slope and refuse to go any further. If only we would consider option #3 -- Keep going!!!!

God has assured us that He will be our Guide. No, we may not see a way out. Yes, the slopes may look steep. But God is good. He sees what we can't see. He knows what we don't know. He is guiding our paths, and we would be wise to follow His guidance (especially when it contradicts with our "common sense"). After all, when we try to go our own way, we may find that we're spending far too much time on our bottoms to get anywhere!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

***Excerpt from 'Paws'itively Divine:  Devotions for Dog Lovers***

Comedy by Joe Wong

Fill in the Blank

The holidays are a wonderful time, and for many, it is a time to reflect on the many blessings in our lives.  For some, however, it also tends to be a time when we realize just how much we lack.  We see others with their new clothing, gadgets and gizmos, and feel as if we're missing out because there weren't any gifts under our tree this year.  Some look forward to the new year with great anticipation while others are hoping and praying that the upcoming year will be better than the last.  And, as strange as it seems, in the midst of holiday cheer and time with family, a test takes place.  A fill-in-the-blank test, to be exact.  Not sure what I mean?  Here are a few examples:

If I had _____________, I would be happy.
A new ______________ would fill my heart with happiness and contentment.
More ______________ would certainly change my attitude about the new year.
I would be perfectly content with my life if my _____________ were better.

No doubt, as you read through those four questions, a few answers popped into your head before you even realized it.  You see, this isn't a test we have to study for.  We've already trained the answers into our brains.  Money.  Fame.  Job.  Relationship.  Health.  We know we want.  We know what we feel we need or deserve.  And we've fooled ourselves into thinking that once we have "that" (whatever fills in the blank) our lives will be complete and fulfilled and happy.  But more often than not, what happens is that we move on to the next thing on our lists because, let's face it, we'll never have exactly what we want.

So what do we do?  How do we finish up this year and begin the new one with an attitude of hope and gratitude instead of misery and discontentment?  Well, the first step is to retrain our brains.  We do not need money, fame, relationships, good jobs or great health in order to live fulfilled lives.  The only thing we need is Christ, and if we've accepted Him as our Lord, then we already have that.  We need nothing else!  The sooner we realize and accept that, the better off we'll be.

Yes, sometimes life is rough and seems unfair, but this one thing we can be certain of:  Jesus is the right answer every time!