Choosing a Path

We’ve been here two weeks.  We’re learning a lot of new things.  This week we went on a journey to another new place, an hour out of the city, in the mountains.  Justin participated in an agricultural training course known as “Farming God’s Way” that showed farmers how caring for God’s creation will bear more fruitful crops, as we bring Glory to God the creator.  The kids and I tagged along.  We cooked our meals in the kitchen of the guesthouse of the Bible College where we stayed.  We did homeschool in the lobby of the guest house for the majority of our morning.  We would then adventure out into the wide world around us to “explore.”  No need to panic, we stayed fairly close to our general home base and consulted about where we were going and when we would be back.  We were there a total of 4 days.  We learned a lot about which path to follow.

The first day the kids and I followed the road and walked past the farm where Justin was studying, located the local post office, passed the petrol station (the landmark we had been given that marked the intersection and had directional signs to aid us) and then proceeded up the hill to find the boarding school where we were catching up with some friends the next day. At this point we had already hiked a mile, drank most of the water reserve I had carried (Once again Grandma, no panicking, the petrol station sold bottled water should we have ever been in true need), and found a collection of monkeys and their babies in the trees who strongly resembled skunks.  (They are called colobus monkeys.)

The kids took a photo and begged in the way that only a child who has endured a morning of schooling, a mile and a half hike up a mountain with an altitude change, and a strong dose of tropical sunlight can; to promptly return to the guest house.  They didn’t want to discover the playground, they were not interested in finding the store so I could grab the eggs, margarine, and the milk I needed to prep their dinner of anything other than peanut butter and jelly (which they had already eaten for lunch) and they definitely didn’t want to know what lay beyond the petrol station in the other direction.  At my personal point of exhaustion, mind you I had taught homeschool to two not so cooperative children, and hauled the water, toilet paper (lesson learned, you never go anywhere without a roll of toilet paper), and the emergency first aid supplies (with our children, this is needed no matter where we are) up the hill.  I negotiated that we could walk back to the petrol station and grab a cold soda and then we could “see how they felt.”  FYI: They had the same temperaments after the Cokes as before, just maybe slightly more jazzed on caffeine and pure cane sugar.  They repeated their mantra, “Lets just go back to the guest house.”  Having negotiated as much as I felt I reasonably could, I proceeded to walk the crew back down the road to the guest house and we all took an hour rest.  I once again encouraged, “Wouldn’t it be fun to head up the hill and go find groceries?”  The looks I got were somewhere between disbelief and flat out questioning of my general intelligence.  I was then in a quandary.  Justin would be in class until 9pm.  I didn’t want to take two kids and drag them up the hill to a taxi that I wasn’t sure I could even find.  To force them to walk again meant I might very well be at the point of later carrying groceries and an exhausted 7 year old back down the hill.  Yet I truly needed supplies to make dinner.  In case you didn’t know, rice and beans cooked without butter or oil stick to the pan.  We had no salt.  I don’t know about you, but unsalted food with our kids means that children who will normally eat just about anything were suddenly going to act like I am serving something atrocious.  I forgot that our teammate had given me a contact in the town we were in, so I did the only thing I knew to do.  I requested assistance from the sweet office manager who kindly found me a picky-picky driver to take his motorbike up the hill and acquire my list of groceries without me or my two exhausted kiddos.  It ended up adding a total of $1.50 to my grocery bill.  It might well be the best $1.50 I ever spent.

Some of you are at this point thinking I’ve fallen off my rocker.  I asked for this.  I asked to come to rural Africa.  I agreed to tag along with Justin to this conference.  Didn’t I know what I was getting myself and my kids into? Well, I kinda did, but living it is a different story. Please remember, no parent or child was harmed in these events or with the retelling of this story.  Let me give you a point of comparison.

On day 2 we went to meet our friends at the school we hiked to the day before.  There was only one small difference.  We spoke with a local, who was also taking the training with Justin, while looking at the road we took the day before.  I explained that the hike the day before had exhausted my kids.  She explained that instead of the road we could take the foot path.  She said it would save us time.  It saved us nearly 3/4 of a mile and 30 plus minutes, not to mention there was no picky-picky (motorbike) or car traffic to avoid.  The kids enthusiastically agreed to walk the distance down to the petrol station to find a snack to share with our friends (Oreos and ice-cream were the goodies they found) which we then carried back up with neither child uttering a single complaint.  The only comment I heard consistently was, “MOM, WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE US ON THE SHORTCUT YESTERDAY?”  My response was simply, “Yesterday’s path sure makes us appreciate today’s shorter path, doesn’t it?”

Day 3 and Day 4 we successfully found shortcut footpaths to all our destinations and we are now safely back in our temporary city apartment.  So, why do I tell you the story of that excruciating walk and the pleasant ones on paths that followed the two days after?  It’s simple.  We should follow the path of Jesus!

Isaiah 42:16 (The Message) “But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.  I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.  I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.  These are the things I’ll be doing for them, sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”

How often do we choose the most difficult path for ourselves and then complain in misery at the consequences our choices bring?  God wants us to choose His path so He can reveal the easy and direct footpaths to us that will lead us into relationship with Him.  He wants to lead us in sight, in thought, in heart, with our hands, and our feet.  He wants to take us on the path that makes us smile and makes our heart sing, yet He lets us choose.  He allows us to pick the path we walk and He continues with us on the path; even when we pick the long and challenging one.  He promises to walk with us and never leave us, not even for a minute.  This message from the Lord is for me as well as the people that have never heard about Jesus or His love.  For anyone calling out to Him, He is right there, calling you to His path where He will never leave you, ever.

I am grateful for the reminder about how much easier the journey is with Jesus by my side.

May your paths lead to Jesus!

In His Love,

K