Do you ever feel like you have lost the delightÂ in the walk ofÂ life because you rush trying to keep up with other peopleÂ orÂ perhaps you get caught upÂ following the pathway of others? If we are talking to a group of teens we would term this as peer pressure but as adults we don’t seem to think of it as being the same. As adults we tend to think we are stronger and can resist the sways of others and walk our own path at our own pace.
I am reading a book by Joyce Rupp, Walk in a Relaxed Manner, that is a type of memoir along with life lessons that she learned by walking on a 37 day pilgrimage along the Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain. Early on in her book she recounts a story of the feeling of pressure she felt to keep up with the other hikers for a variety of reasons one being her age. She was sixty when she walked the “Camino”. When I read this chapter in the book I remember thinking to myself I cannot imagine getting so caught up with what others were doing that I would feel the pressure to do what they were doing, whether hiking or anything. Well God has a way of opening our eyes to reality whenÂ we think like this and yesterday was my reality.
WeÂ traveled this weekend to be with family as many of you may have done for the holiday also. We really had no particular destination other than the one which then left time to explore other areas. Yesterday afternoon we decided that it would be a delight to find a peaceful place full of God’s artistic scenery. We looked on the map after stopping for a quick but late lunch and noticed there was a scenic area on the map designated by a purple line which meant scenic byway, full of hiking trails, and in particular a waterfall. We are always up for a good hike to a waterfall. Now the questionÂ aroseÂ as to whichÂ was the best way to get there for the quickest entry. It appeared if we could just get to this particular road we would be able to cut across and turn to reachÂ the road we needed. As we ponderedÂ whether we should ask around in this one red-light town or just drive a bit until we found it I happened to turn around and lo and beholdÂ right in front of where weÂ were was the highway sign we needed. Obviously God was with us and so the journey began.
We did indeed travel the scenic byway finding our way really and truly only by the grace of God as not one road was on the map with any marking. We saw and found delightÂ in manyÂ beautiful places and located the entry and parking for the waterfall. We parked the car getting outÂ stretching as we had ridden a while and perused the trailhead sign to determine the distance and any other information we may need. The length of the hike was not marked which can be a bit of a chance but it was a waterfall, we had time, and we had proper gear for hiking. We quickly changed our shoes putting on socks and hiking shoes that would suffice for a day hike grabbed our bags and we were off.
A young couple had pulled up in the meantime and they also intended to hike this trail and inquired if we had done this before. We had not and learned that neither had they as they asked to which direction we thought the trail head was as there were many trails. The young man decided on a trail and they took off as we continued to get prepared with shoes and gear. We finally got upon our way also heading up the same trail. It wasn’t long before we caught up with the couple and they began to question if we thought we were all on the trail to the waterfall since it wasn’t marked. WeÂ thought we were as there was a creek beside us and we were heading up an inclineÂ which usually isÂ a good sign of a waterfall. So we all hiked together in a line following one behind the other. The young man led the way and began to joke that he was sure there were big rattlesnakes in the area and that we should all be careful. It was clear that he was trying to tease his girlfriend which drew my attention toÂ her footwear. Oh my goodness I thought she has on flip-flops! Not only did she have on flip-flops they were a bit dressy and if they got the least bit wet she was going to slip and slide. I began to voice my concerns about her footwear snakes or no snakes when the young man pointed out that heÂ had on flip-flops also! Oh my goodness I thought again, these two people will never to able to hike up an incline to a waterfall.
The trail began to grow steeper and we all were getting winded but the flip-flopped couple kept going without the anticipated problems that I felt they would encounter as we moved up the steep trail full of rocks. After traveling a distance at a very steep incline even I had to admit I was getting winded and a quick break to catch my breath would be nice. But the young couple kept going and not only did they keep going they were walking in flip-flops! Well there was no way I was going to let this unprepared young couple who obviously had no experience hiking reach the destination before we did so I hurried up the rest of my hiking family. I saw pretty little waterfalls and other picturesque placesÂ along the way that I would have liked to stop and shoot, as I had my camera, but I thought to myself I will get that when we return I have to keep up with the young flip-flopped couple.
I was not going to let them get there before I did. My competitive nature kicked in and the race was on as not only was I going to arrive when they did I would not even be breathing hard. It was about that time that I remembered reading Joyce’s words just a few days ago. I was losing the delight of the entire hiking experience simply by trying to follow and keep up with this young flip-flopped couple.Â I put the brakes on myÂ legs as I realized that I was allowing myself to be led away from the delight of the experience and follow along on some foolhardy pace simply because I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want this couple who I didn’t know to think that I was out of shape, didn’t have experience, or was old. I knew I wasn’t out of shape. I knew I had experience. I also knew they were half my age and I am sure they knew I was at least twice their age. Who exactly was I trying to prove what to?
I was missing the entire delight of God’s artistryÂ by following along with what others were doing. As I slowed my pace downÂ I began to realize how quickly I had allowed myself to get off of the path of peace that I had started this hike for. The delight of the journey was entirely lost by the rushÂ of not only keeping up with this couple but the worry of what they would think if I did not. This opened my eyes to this week’s focus verse as I realized how quickly we can allow ourselves to get caught up in the fool hardy adventures of others creating stress as we veer off the path we have established for ourselves. Whereas if we stay grounded to our beliefs and knowledge we will certainly delight in the adventures, journey, and path that God has laid before us. Psalm 1:1-2
Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with the mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. (NLT)
Delight is found only with God
How often are we influenced or do we allow others to direct our lives? Whether we call it peer pressure or the more adult “keeping up with the Jones” it all amounts to the same thing. If we allow others and or the ways of the world to influence the path we are on we will often find anxiety, distress, and or discontent. We will lose the delight of the path God has deemed for us as we get caught up in the thoughts, the ways, or the rush as we allow outside influences to slowly deviate us from that path in which we know is the path God directed for us.
We must stay grounded in the delight and truth of God and all He promises for us. It might seem harsh to call those who deviate from the commands and truths of God wicked, evil, or sinners but we must remember that anytime we do not follow the commands and truths of God weÂ are following what Satan desires which is veryÂ wicked andÂ he is evil and byÂ following through we are sinning no matter how big or small of a category we may want to placeÂ our sin in to God it is all the same, a sin. God tells us if we will followÂ His commands we will not be followingÂ Satan. (Psalm 17:4)
If we want to know what we should be doing we must be prepared to have a relationship with God. To know God is to learn about Him and there is only one place to do that and it is in His word. We must spend time reading and thinking about what the scriptures mean and asking ourselves what we shouldÂ change to live as God is commanding us to do. This is where we will find our hope and the delight of our lives.Â (Psalm 25:5)
If we are going to travel the paths of life in a relaxed manner with peace on our hearts we must ground ourselves with the goodness of God. We must be willing to change our attitude getting it in line with the attitude God desires us to have. We must change our behavior and not allow ourselves to get caught up with the rush of life and the ways of the world. In order to do either of these we must change our approach to life which sometimes means placing and surrounding ourselves with groups of people who also are following the path of God. We must have people around us who will build us up and not influence us to follow the path that we know God would not approve. It is there on the path of the righteousness that we will find the delights in the beauty of the path, finding delights in the peace by worrying less.
As I slowed myself down yesterday on the path I was able to find delight in the world that God created. My heart rate slowed and I breathed easier. I captured things along the path with my camera that I would have missed if I had kept going at the pace I was allowing myself to be influenced by with two inexperienced flip-flopped people. As I rounded a switch back I found the couple exhausted and sitting down to catch their breath. I did not need to rest because I was walking in a relaxed manner slow and steady finding the beauty along the way. We reached the waterfall long before the flip-flop couple for which I shouldÂ haveÂ found satisfaction inÂ but IÂ did not. When they reached the very top platform all they could do was lie down on a bench because they were so tired. They missed the entire waterfall and found no beauty in their surroundings. They were not interested in exploring the area and before long they made their way back down the trail missing the very thing in which the trail was created for, the waterfall, along with the beautyÂ on the way.
It made me sad that they got so caught up in reaching the final destination that they missed the beauty along the way and when they reached the final destination it was not as they expected because they passed the waterfall making the attempt to reach the platform. Their journey became only about the final destination and in their haste to reach it they missed the very thing they set out to do. If they had only followed the path in more relaxed and prepared way they would have seen the waterfall for it was not at the top of the platform but before theÂ platform could be reached. The delight of the waterfall had to be searched for in order for it to be experienced. The delight of the Lord must be searched for by studying His word, seeking His path, staying to the course in a slowÂ steady manner,Â and enjoying the sceneryÂ along the way otherwise one day we may reach the top of the platform and realize there is no further path to follow and we have reached the end in our rush to follow the others and have neither found what we were looking for on the path or delighted in the beauty along the way.
I pray that all of usÂ are able to stay strong to God by studying His word and staying in fellowship with each other and not allowing the world or its rush to influence us to move off of our path.
Love in Christ,
I won the race to the top but took no pleasure in beating the flip-flopped couple because they missed the entire point of the trail. As we go forward let us remember that along the path to God we will come across the ill prepared flip-floppedÂ people of the world whoÂ may need our help to know Jesus and understand the point and delights of the journey along the way. Let us all be willing to take the time to share and help enlighten others along the path to the wayÂ of God through Jesus Christ so we may all celebrate together when we reach the end of the trailÂ rejoicing as weÂ see the glorious final destination.
What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion…
Have you allowed yourself to be influenced by the ways of our world? Have you watched movies or television that you know has not been something God would approve of? Have you ever tried to keep up with friends, neighbors, or colleagues in a materialistic way making idols of possessions? Have you stood up for what you knew was the right thing to do even though others around you did not? Do you have the peace of God for you have learned to enjoy the beauty of the path along the way? Join us with these thoughts or others as we discuss how to stand strong in our beliefs when the world seems to be going in the opposite direction.