No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.
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.
- Psalm 25:3-5
Sometimes when you are on a lonely trail the path before you is clear. It can be narrow and treacherous, but well-defined by rocks or well-trod dirt. It could also be wide and flat, but offer a clear route through the thick of trees on a Pennsylvania mountainside.
Other times, though, the path is indistinguishable from its surroundings. It can be narrow — too narrow to rightly be considered a path and make you wonder if you have gone the wrong way. Sometimes it can be so wide and flat that you can’t tell if you’re on the path or have reached some sort of clearing. Either way, you aren’t sure which direction you should go to continue on the hike.
Thankfully, those who have gone before have marked the trail with splotches of paint on the side of trees. If you get to an open clearing, look for the next few markings and you will be on your way.
The path of our faith has also been marked by those who have gone before us. It’s not as obvious, perhaps, as white paint on the dark bark of a tree. It’s as subtle as a Bible that doesn’t gather dust; as quiet as a prayer before dinner. Or, it can be marked in huge, God-glorifying ways as we see in the lives of ancient God-chasers like David, Abraham, Peter and Paul or their more contemporary counterparts — William Wilberforce, Hudson Taylor, D.L. Moody, Oswald Chambers, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham.
But the trailblazers with the most lasting effect are the ones closest to home. I think of my Grammy, who recently went home to be with the Lord she loved and served. I would not be doing any of the ministry I do today without her support and example.
Or, I think of Donna, the pastor’s wife of the church I attended as an awkward middle-schooler and teen. She saw something in the quiet kid and was the first to encourage me to seriously study the Bible as a quizzer. Sometimes I wonder if she knows what she unleashed.
Then there are the many, many people in my home church who encourage me, teach me, lead me and follow me. They all have made their mark in my life.
Yet, even their path was marked by One who went before. The One who was and is and is to come. The only One whose path offers the only course through our dark, fallen world.
Who has helped you to grow in your spiritual life?
How has it made a difference?