It started with a desire to take a walk today. The weather is cool and cloudy on Hvar, and the forecast says we're in for rain this afternoon. So I wanted to get in a walk before it started.
Some might say that I have an adventurous spirit. And they'd be right in one respect: I've lived in three countries other than my own passport country for the past thirty years. There's definitely some adventure in that!
But when it comes to doing risky things by myself, I'm much more cautious. Usually, but not always.
The road in the picture above has made me curious as I've walked by it each day. "Where does it lead," I've wondered. On the map it looks like it twists and turns, ending up at a hotel down by the water. With that in mind, I headed off down it.
Beauty met me around every turn. I don't know why, but I can never get enough of the trees, flowers, grasses and even rocks here on the island. There's a wildness about them that intrigues me, and fills my senses with delight.
Finally I came to this road, which looked like the road to the water. I figured once I made it down there, I'd find a path back to the hotel along the water's edge.
Fairly quickly though, I realized it wouldn't. It only turned into a tiny path.
Honestly, at this point I began wondering if I'd gone beyond my usual limit for "adventure". It was a little unnerving to be on a path I didn't know, all by myself, in the middle of nowhere. I thought about turning around.
When that tiny path turned into almost no path at all, I seriously asked, "Should I turn back?"
In hindsight, I really should've been asking the Lord what to do, not talking to myself. But that thought didn't occur to me at that point. I was still thinking I was just on a walk down to the water.
In the end I talked myself into going a little bit further, promising I'd turn back if it became dangerous in any way. Looking back it's funny to me that I thought I could assess danger by myself.
Gingerly I made my way through the wet grass, stumbling over slippery rocks. I fell to the ground at one point, twisting my knee a bit. Finally, this led me to cry out to the Lord. I needed Him, and He met me there.
I managed to get back up and continue forward, this time aware of His presence with me.
Pushing aside wet limbs, sloshing through a tangle of weeds at my feet and walking ever so slowly, I came through the brush and spilled out into this spot.
A tiny cove, completely tucked away as if civilization had never been there. Even on a cloudy day, it was breathtaking. For a few minutes, I just stood there soaking it in, overwhelmed by the beauty.
It was then I realized what had just happened. While I'd made my own way, the Lord had been present and "rescued" me, even rewarding me with a glimpse of yet another magnificent creation of His. Oh how I praised Him, thanking Him for his protection and leading! I felt so grateful.
Yet, in my humanness, having even just acknowledged His presence, I was still on "my plan", thinking I'd make my way along the edge until I reached the hotel I was headed for.
But then I heard it: the still small voice of the Lord telling me to turn back.
Right then and there, I looked at the situation through His eyes. I saw those rocks, sharp and uneven, and the sea splashing up onto them. I could sense danger, not from anybody, but only in the uncertainty of what was ahead. The Lord was telling me it would be unwise to go there.
So I turned around.
As I turned back, I finally felt I was on HIS path. Whew. Relief. I prayed then that He would show me the way to the road again, even though I'd strayed onto my own path. Scripture came to mind and I quoted it out loud to comfort myself as I set off to find the path.
"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
Moving slowly, praying as I climbed back up through the brush, I was so sharply aware of my need for the Lord. I'd strayed, and yet He'd rescued me. It made me feel like crying. How many times has He done this for me?
Being led to this sight brought immense relief as I recognized where I was.
As did this when I came to it a half hour later. Pavement never looked so good!
I made my way down to the water's edge, this time on a road that was familiar, and that He was leading me on.
As I stepped onto the path along the shore leading towards home, I let out a sigh of relief.
So thankful to have been led home safely, even when I'd "made my own way" without consulting the Lord.
It had seemed so innocent to go out for "just a walk", to do a little exploring. But I'd done it alone.
As I walked toward the gate, nearing home, it became crystal clear to me that I don't want ONE DAY off his path. It's a scary place to be.
I want a life on the Lord's path. At all times. Oh may I be increasingly attentive to His desire to lead me, and ever so quick to follow Him wherever He wants me to go.
"Teach me your way O Lord and I will walk in your truth." Psalm 86:11