“Making a decision, choosing a path is only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, chooses a path, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him into places he had never dreamed of when he first made that decision.” (From the Alchemist). Tonight is my last night off of a 30-day sabbatical my church was gracious enough to grant me. I have done a lot of swimming, hiking, traveling, and baseball games this past summer. I especially did a lot of hiking these past 3 weeks. Up some treacherous mountains, beside big rivers in the pouring rain, along an old coal mine from Hell’s Hollow in Lake County east of Cleveland to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. And I am ALWAYS fascinated with paths. You never know what is just around the bend. I almost always go off trail (except when I hiked Humpback Rocks…I would have died if I would have gone off trail). I really wanted to see a bear this summer. (I have included pictures at the end).
Earlier this summer, my nieces and I spent a day exploring out of the way places around where we live. We do this often. That day we foraged through some funky plants and ended up at a furnace and breaking out from plant salve. We ended up at Dairy Queen washing our legs off in the bathroom to try and stop the burning. There were two ways to get to this place. We chose the harder path. But I got to see something I have wanted to see since I was a kid (and a rash and a rock to commemorate).
This summer has been about decisions….what path do I take? For my sabbatical, the church gave me a journey bag. In it were letters from people I know and love to read while I was gone. One person wrote, “This sabbatical is not just about what you are doing to do with the rest of your life, it’s who are you going to be?” This resonated with me. This person knows me very well and saw my struggle.
What kind of a person do I want to be? Will I be a risk-taker? Will I choose joy? Will I be courageous and brave? Will I be kind? and honest? Will I continue to believe the best about people? Will Jesus continue to be the center of my life? Will I continue to be someone who enjoys the simple things?
One of my favorite authors is Paulo Coehlo. He says, “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” I was able to experience the simple things this past month. Sleep. Raindrops on flowers. Butterflies. The love only dogs can give. Laughter and tears with friends. Sleep. Waves crashing onto shore. Wind blowing on the top of a mountain. The smell of stale beer and popcorn at the ball field. The sound of the crack of the bat. Driving for hours listening to music. Sleep.
Will the simple things continue to fill me with wonder?
“No one can earn a star or a sunset, that gratitude and dependence on God are the very bedrock of reality” (I have read so much this summer, I don’t remember who wrote this).
Paths. We all have a path to walk. And periodically we have to choose which path to take. I literally had to do that countless times this summer. Sometimes I chose well, and other times not so much. Coelho says, “Being human means having doubts and yet still continuing on your path.”
Scripture says that God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
There are many paths we all have to choose.
- Will we choose to be bitter or better?
- Will we choose to complain or to give thanks?
- Will we choose to be stingy or to be generous?
- Will we choose to hold an offense or to forgive?
- Will we choose to hate or to love?
- Will we choose to gossip or to keep our tongue still?
- Will we choose to tear down or build up?
- Will we choose to do the easy thing or the hard thing?
- Will we choose to shrink back or to be courageous?
- Will we choose to concentrate on our lack or on our gifts?
- Will we play it save or attempt the impossible?
- Will we choose joy?
We may not always choose wisely. We may end up soaking wet or in a Dairy Queen covered in hives with our legs burning. Even in the choosing wrongly, we grow.
What will you choose today?