As many of you know, in mid-April I hiked the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, totaling over 45 miles (72km) in four days, while carrying all of our gear I might add.
At the end of our third and longest day I was to give the evening devotional on something the Lord had taught me during that days hike, so there was no planning in advance. The good news was I would have 16 miles (26km) to pray about it!
The Lord clearly led me to the word ‘perspective’ as my focus for the devotion.
Just before lunch we were making our way down from the Horns of Hattin and could see in the distance Mount Arbel where we knew we were headed. As I followed the trail down the slope, I looked up expecting to see Mount Arbel ahead of me. Instead the end goal was out to my right, seemingly off my path. It was in this moment I felt the Lord whisper “perspective”.
How often do we feel this way in our walk with the Lord? He has given us a vision, a calling to carry out, we know what it is we are supposed to aim for, but it seems incomprehensible how the step he is asking us to take could ever lead us to that goal. We cannot see how it fits into the plan. Yet we know he has the entire plan in his hands, and that is how you keep going, that is the perspective you must keep. God knows. He loves you. Trust him.
Hiking the Jesus Trail we attacked many different terrains (see above), all of which presented difficulties and most pulled our focus to the path directly in front of us limiting our perspective. Thankfully I was surrounded by wonderful people! Over and over again throughout the trail you would hear someone say, “Look at this!” Then a passel of heads around them would change their focus to see what had caused the exclamation. Sometimes our eyes were directed upwards, sometimes down but we were always simply given the opportunity to stop and soak in everything around us, not just that directly ahead.
Although one of the most profound things for me was realizing that even as I had to stare at the ground in front of me, carefully watching each step I took, my view was infiltrated by beautiful wildflowers. Even when God is not showing you the whole picture, when what you are walking towards seems a fuzzy memory, even when you cannot see the amazing wonders God is guiding you to at all, he fills your world, your perspective, with beauty. His goodness is not just in the grand Mount Arbel that stands 700 feet above sea level and is hard to miss when taking in the skyline. His goodness is even in the simple wildflowers scattered along the hillside.
Don’t get bogged down if you are in a time where you are barely able to keep focused on each individual step. Remember to notice the beauty found even and only there. But if you can, look up, and remember there is a bigger perspective, a godly perspective. Whether you know what Gods personal vision for your life is or you are still searching, rest in knowing while you cannot see all of the perspectives at once, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob can.
My encouragement to our team that evening as I closed came from 1 Timothy 4:8-16,
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Paul calls us to train, to labor and strive with our hope in the living God, but he doesn’t stop there. Once we are doing these things we must teach others! This is what our leaders Patrick and Rebecca have done. They have devoted their lives to discipling young adults. Which meant that, over the course of this physically exhausting excursion across Israel, our focus was on allowing the Lord to change us. And believe me he did. The group of men and women that hiked alongside me for four days are filled with giftings and strengths that will change the world.
So keep your perspective focused on our heavenly Father and allow him to use you in the lives of others!
*Picture credits to Hannah Taylor, Michio Nagata, Grant Standridge and Caleb Benedick.