It’s a good thing I had a late noon checkout; it took me all morning to eat breakfast, pack and get ready. I ride the shuttle to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. After I unpack everything I’d just packed, I leave my room to explore.
This year I’ll hike to the lake. At 0.5 miles it’s more of a stroll. That is if you can read a map. My 3 ½ year old granddaughter Kylie can read a map better than her grams. “It should be somewhere right around here,” I mumble. The map shows yet another dark line. I ponder, Maybe I haven’t gone far enough yet. I keep walking.
When I arrive at the open softball field I clearly see a set of stairs directly across from me. I wish my life’s direction was this easy so I know where I’m supposed to go.
I begin walking up the steps. I see a beautiful flower. Stay on the trail, I remind myself. With my telephoto lens I can still get a great shot. Three flights up and I reach the top. Yep, this is way easier. I know exactly where I’m going now.
Until I turn to the left. A dead end just 10 feet away.
Really, a dead end? It seemed so obvious and clear that this must be the right trail. Where did I go wrong? I look at my useless map again. I go back down the stairs and roam around the field looking for anything that could be a path towards the lake. I feel like an Israelite roaming around for 40 years looking for the Promised Land. I pray, Lord, I’m so tired of roaming, roaming, and more roaming. Please show me a clear path of what You want me to do.
I finally find a narrow path that looks like it could possibly be a trail. The obvious trail wasn’t right. Guess I’ll try this hill. I call out to God again. Lord, my life is so hard. Every day is a struggle. Why does life have to be so hard?
I continue trudging up the hill in my flip flops, carrying my diet coke, with my camera backpack slung over my shoulder. After all, I am only “hiking” half a mile. I don’t need water or snacks. I see a sign ahead. I feel hope for a brief moment. The sign reads, Rattlesnake Trail.
Lord, this isn’t funny; You know I HATE snakes. You wouldn’t place a snake in my path.
I walk more cautiously up the hill. I recall daily obstacles I encounter as I walk over endless tree roots protruding above ground, dead tree limbs blocking my path, and rocks that require maneuvering in something other than flip-flops.
Then I think I see the top of the hill. Do I really have to walk all the way to the top? My question is quickly answered with the appearance of another sign. A left arrow points to the Lake. Woo-hoo! I finally find the lake path.
The downhill path narrows. I think I’m on the right path, but I actually can’t see the lake. I sense God’s presence as the trees gently sway over head. The birds’ songs add to His presence.
This isn’t what I pictured but there is actually a lake. The lake below is mostly blocked by trees, but occasionally I get a glimpse. In a brief clearing, I see a bridge. My hope returns. I walk a little faster. This is what I was hoping for. A long bench sits overlooking the peaceful lake where I can write in my journal and pray.
As I turn the final corner, I see another sign. Trail Closed. I cry out, “Are you serious Lord?” I sit and sob.