My husband’s 40th birthday was last weekend. Forty is a big milestone and deserving of a worthy celebration. His original plan for celebrating his birthday was cancelled due to Covid, so I threw together a new birthday plan at the last minute. I pondered and thought about what he would most enjoy and settled on a weekend getaway.
Years ago, my husband mentioned that he would love to drive the whole Blue Ridge Parkway. So, armed with good intentions and a downloaded phone app, I began to plan his grand adventure. I even bought a portable DVD player for our van to help keep our kids occupied for the long journey. My idea was to drive him through Virginia to the northernmost point of the Parkway, then announce my grand plan, giving him the driver’s seat to explore the Parkway to his heart’s desire.
It’s a “choose your own adventure,” I told him. “You’re in charge of where we stop, where we hike, where we linger, and how fast we get home.” Truly, at this point I meant every word. My altruism was high, and I was looking forward to a fun, social-distanced, mini-vacation.
Five miles into our journey down the Parkway, my husband stopped at his first chosen destination: a picnic area with a scantily-mapped trail. We decided to take a risk and hike it. Because the trail was not well marked, my ever-techy husband brought his phone along to track it with GPS. We hiked until our pathway met up with the Appalachian Trail, and I figured it was time to head back. Instead, my husband, staring intently at his phone, announced that it looked like there was a small gravel road just through the trees to our left. He decided that it would be fun to try to find the gravel road and use it to hike back to our van.
Oh no. I seem to always forget that the Detweiler family doesn’t hike trails. They like to walk off-road, take short cuts, and blaze their own trails. Although I don’t like to think of myself as a rule-follower, when it comes to hiking, I generally feel safer following marked pathways.
“Are you sure you want to leave the trail? How can you tell there’s a gravel road?,” I cautiously asked my husband. He whipped out his phone to show me the directions. At this point, our children were whooping with glee, taking off through the woods to the aforementioned destination. Only I remained hesitant.
“Okay,” I gave in. “I did say it was your weekend to choose your own adventure. I just didn’t know it would come so soon.”
As we hiked through leaves, briars, and over an old stone wall, my boys and husband were delighted to explore. They were off on a grand adventure. Meanwhile, I felt my own attitude souring with anxiety and annoyance.
My beautiful trip idea had just met reality. It turns out I am not quite the adventurer that I wanted to be. I quickly discovered that when I am not the one in control, adventures are less fun and more anxiety-provoking.
I feel exactly the same way about my faith walk with Christ. Signing up for a life of faith is reminiscent of being on a “choose your own adventure” story where Someone else is deciding the adventure. In my heart and with good intention, I usually think that I’m ready for an adventure with Jesus. Then, when reality hits, when adversity hits, or when I can’t see where the trail is headed, I find myself questioning Him rather than trusting His plan.
- Are you sure, Jesus, that this is what you called me to?
- Is this really the path you’re leading me down?
- What if it isn’t safe?
- What if your plan doesn’t take me to the place I thought we were going?
- What if this is harder than I thought it was going to be?
Oh, friends, I have a long way to go in my trust journey: with my husband and with the Lord. I have known both of them long enough to understand that they have my best in mind. They always have my back. Maybe this struggle says less about my husbands choices, or God’s plans, and more about my own heart? My own anxiety? My own discomfort? My own desire for control?
The life of faith is rarely a mountaintop experience. When our faith walk does happen to lead us up for a beautiful view, the climb is often arduous to get there. No, most of our lives will be spent on scantily-marked trails, walking step by step in faith through the mundanity of ordinary life. Either way, in the mundane or in the extraordinary, the Lord has a plan. We can trust Him. After all, He writes the very best adventure stories.
Pause, Renew, Next: As you look back over your faith journey, when have you found it hard to trust? How did those adventures turn out? Journal about the times that the Lord was faithful even when you weren’t sure exactly how the situation was going to turn out. Looking back at the Lord’s faithfulness gives us the ability to trust Him for the next adventure.
May we trust the Lord’s plans and may He make our paths straight.
Pause, Renew, Next!