On the last day of another great week visiting my parents last summer, I decided to go for a run. I started up the hill that led from their house to the local park, to jog a few laps around the baseball fields. But when I reached the park, I wimped out! The walking trail has a pretty steep incline across the back side of the park, and my body, spoiled to usually run in south Florida where all is flat and smooth just said, “nope!” I knew that my old high school was about a mile further down that nice flat road, so I decided that it would be fun to wander down memory lane instead!
As I neared the high school, a flood gate seemed to burst open… of faces and places and happenings that I hadn’t thought about in 30 years! From marching band practice to lunchtime Frisbee on the front lawn to the cafeteria’s awesome peanut butter bon-bons… to trig and calculus and Spanish essays and trying to make sense of Beowulf and existentialism in English class… to our fantastic high school musicals and track & swim meets and M&M fundraisers… to learning how to type on a good old-fashioned machine with a carriage return… to dear friends with whom I am still in contact today!
I circled around to the back of the school and smiled when I saw the football field again… where we marched half-time for every game, struggled to run even one lap of the track during gym class, but ultimately walked across the grass in Colonial red and blue to receive our diplomas at graduation. It was surreal to be standing there again. Had it really been 30 years??
Lost in my thoughts, I found myself heading up the hill behind the school to where the old junior high building still stands. That hill had been the brutal first half of our biathlon challenge for swim class. I was not a runner back then and barely made it through without losing my lunch! It felt a bit victorious to jog that same path quite comfortably all these years later! Circling the old junior high brought back its own memories – from first crushes to favorite teachers to frog dissection to home ec & woodworking to trying desperately not to embarrass myself while attempting to play volleyball or field hockey in gym class!
As I started back down the hill toward the main road, I came upon a small bike path emerging from a housing development. I stopped, tilted my head and squinted at it. Scratching the cobwebs away from my brain, I felt sure that path led to the small local library across from my old elementary school. On a whim, I decided to continue my tour down memory lane and said a little prayer that this path would lead me to familiar territory!!!
Sure enough, the path followed the fence line of back yards and eventually brought me up another small hill – right beside the library! I almost laughed out loud. How in the world did I remember that? It had been 30 years since I had even given it a thought! And there I stood, beside that beloved little building where I loved to page through picture books and where I did my first “research” for an assignment about the Stewart tartan in 6th grade. I remember feeling “all grown up” to be able to walk there by myself from the elementary school! And there in the front lawn, stood the same amazing rock structure that always looked like a bear reading a book. How sweet that it had been preserved all these years!
Of course, I could not end this little tour without a stop at the elementary school across the street. The sign at the entrance still proudly displayed a lion mascot with the slogan “hear us ROAR!” that had been selected when I was still a student there… a LONG time ago! A few more memories of favorite teachers and friends and foursquare floated through my mind as I turned back toward my parents’ home.
In the homestretch of my run down “memory lane” that day, I couldn’t help but think of the little prayer I offered up as I turned onto that path to the library… that the Lord would lead me back to familiar territory! How faithful He is!
He can (and will) show me exactly where to go. When I am not sure, even when I have absolutely NO clue where I am going or what I should be doing, He will show me.
He can lead me back… back to familiar territory, sometimes all the way back to simpler days, early steps of innocent faith. It was as a teenager that I first began to follow Christ. Not just because that was the way I was raised. Not just because my parents taught me to do so (although I am eternally grateful for their love for the Lord and their desire to lead me to the Savior). It was as a teenager, in junior high and high school, that I began to wrestle out my own questions and seek the Lord, through His Word, for answers. I knew my eternity was secure when I trusted JESUS as my Savior at age 12. But it was during those teenage years that I began to discover how near and dear He was – to me! – in every day life situations – when I began to find Him faithful, always. The foundation for a lifelong journey began.
I thought of Jacob finding his way back to Bethel, the first place that he encountered the Lord in a personal way. Thirty years after his night vision of the ladder to heaven in that solitary place, thirty years after the Lord had spoken His promises to him, not just to his father or grandfather, Jacob made his way back. In the process, he led his family to establish their trust and focus in a covenant with the one true God.
“let us arise and go up to Bethel and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone” Genesis 35:3
Circling the past, retracing the steps, I can say the same: “the Lord has answered me in any days of distress and has been with me wherever I have gone!” Looking back helps me to see His hand moving and working in amazing ways! Those ways may have been mysterious at many points along the way, but no less powerful or wondrous!
I can trust His light and truth to lead me, His grace to hold me, His faithfulness to refresh my soul and renew my confidence in whatever path lies ahead.
He can, and will, show me exactly where to go!
When necessary, He can, and will, lead me back to the right path.
Show me the right path, O LORD, point out the road for me to follow; lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You. Psalm 25:4-5
This is what the LORD says: “stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
Praise God for His tender mercies and enduring faithfulness – always!
Read more here! – Genesis 28:10-22 – Genesis 35:1-8 – Psalm 23:3 – Psalm 43:3 – Hosea 2:14
“there are many paths in life,
some narrow, some wide,
I will choose the path of CHRIST
where He walks by my side.”
~ Cathleen Zeller