In last week's blog, I shared a newfound Lenten discipline of "adventure" on which these next few weeks will focus. This past weekend, a friend and I ventured to a hidden treasure in southwest Mississippi: Clark's Creek. Located near Woodville, Clark's Creek is one of the few places in Mississippi where one can find waterfalls among the hiking trails. A few days before leaving, another friend warned me that I would really get a workout at Clark's Creek as there were many steep hills. Confident, I said, "I've been hiking for weeks now. I can handle it."
First lesson learned: listen to your friends. Really listen to your friends.
Cameras in hand, we got off to a great start on the trails. The paths were well-kept and abundant in options. A few minutes into the hike, my friend pointed out that we were on a lot of downhill slopes and said, "These are going to be tough on the way back." I heard him, I knew that he was right, but I still told myself that I could handle it.
A couple of hours later, many photos of waterfalls in hand and miles on our boots, we started back to the car. By this time, we had been on a number of hills and worked up a sweat. But we still had to ascend those initial hills that had led us to the waterfalls. We climbed one. Then another. Did the temperature rise fifty degrees in five minutes? Did my camera suddenly gain ten pounds? Our steps got slower, our conversation ceased in order to breathe, but we kept going. Eventually, we reached the final incline, which is pictured above. Next to the rocky trail were stairs. Before us was a choice. Do we stay on the trail, or give our feet a break from the rocky soil in preference of solid wood? There was nothing "wrong" or "right" about either option. Both led to the same destination of parking lot that grew more beloved by the second. Regardless, we would get a good workout.
We all know that life abounds with choices. Stairs & trails are before us all the time, and some decisions are more serious than others. In Psalm 16:11, the singer prays, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Perhaps instead of asking ourselves what the better decision is, or what the right decision is, we should ask ourselves which decision brings us life. Do the stairs or the trails make us feel more alive? Which choice will bring out the best in us?
As we journey together through the wilderness with Jesus, down the road to Jerusalem, and trudge towards the cross, let us not stress over our decisions but see them as opportunities for new life--the breath of life.
By the way, we both chose the trail. And we're stronger for the climb.
Lenten grace, peace, and adventure to each of you,