Being lost can be scary. It’s hard not knowing if the direction you’re travelling is the right one. Life is full of twist and turns, and sometimes we end up uncertain of where we should go next. In this week’s edition of Beyond the Cupola OSB employee, Austin Hall, explores how to navigate those times in life where we feel lost.
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There is a Path
I could hear the muffled sound of my alarm going off. Time to get up. I climbed out of my sleeping bag and realized what time it was. Almost time for the trail race to start! I drank some water, laced up my running shoes, and headed to the starting line. It was amazing weather. The sun was breaking through the trees as the day began and I was ready for the challenge ahead. We had camped at the Oconee State park in South Carolina with four of my friends the night before in order to be at the starting line early. As we approached the starting line for the race the event staff was giving last minute instructions on the trail directions. “For the half marathon make sure to follow the pink tape!” They had wrapped a bright neon pink tape around various trees in order for the race participants to know which direction to go.
The air horn blew and the herd of people slowly began their adventure on the winding paths in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Trail racing is like hiking on steroids. The views among each valley and crest were incredible with the light coming through the canopy of oak trees above. Occasionally we would pass over a small creek. The air smelled like pines. I kept looking for the pink tape to guide me to the next turn.
Eventually the trail merged onto a split forest service road. There was no one in front of me. Which way should I go? I thought to myself, “I will go to the right for a few minutes and try to find the pink tape in that direction but if I don’t see the tape I will know that I should have gone the other way.” I realized that there was not any pink tape so I turned around. As I was coming back to where the trail split there was a couple coming up towards the fork in the road. They asked me if I knew which way to go. I told them, “well I ran to the right for a few hundred yards and I didn’t see any pink tape so it must be the other way.” They seemed uncertain but decided to follow me. We began running down the fork to the left. Other racers saw us and soon I had 7 or 8 people following me. They began questioning if this was the correct route. I told them frankly that I was not sure but logically if the other direction had no tape then it must be this way. We did not see any tape in this new direction either. The realization that we were lost kept nagging at me but in my pride I did not want to admit I was lost. I kept hoping that eventually we would see some sign to confirm we were on the right trail. Nothing. We ran probably half a mile in the wrong direction. Eventually we hit a main road and I recognized where we were. We were able to follow the main road back to the entrance and to the end of the race even though we took a major detour. I was thankful to be done and no longer lost. We found out later that all of us had missed a turn long before we came to the fork in the road. Neither direction of the fork would have been the right way to go.
I read a book last year called the Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley. The main premise of the book is that your direction and not your intention will determine your destination. That day on the trail race I had really good intentions of finishing the race and following the path to the finish line but I went in the wrong direction and I was disqualified. It did not matter how much I wanted to be going the right way. What truly mattered is where I was actually going. Sometimes we mentally fool ourselves into thinking that everything is ok even though if we were honest about it we are lost. Are there areas in your life where you have taken a wrong turn? Maybe you find yourself further from God that you want to be. Maybe you are not on track with your savings or with your retirement plan. Maybe an addiction or habit is leading you down a road you do not want to go. What is going to help you get back on the right track? We all need to reorient ourselves at times.
I am sure most of you have gotten lost at some point while driving or while in a city that you have never been to. There is a greater degree of seriousness about our eternal direction though. God’s word says, “We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. If you feel lost, pray about it. Ask God for help. Ask a friend for help. Go get counseling or advice from someone you know is going the right direction. Find a map that will take you were you want to go. I have found the Bible to be a great source of direction. The good news is that there is a path which leads to life. “You make known to me the path of life,” Psalm 16:11. Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. If there are warning signs that you have lost the way maybe you need to backtrack. Reevaluate where you are trying to go. Not every path will take you to your desired destination. I am thankful I have friends in my life that remind me of this truth. There is hope for us. Keep searching for the path that leads to life.