Friday, September 16, 2011

An Old Friend and the Well Worn Way

I followed the once well-worn path that leads from the front yard up to the top of Darling Hill. Its strange winds and turns made sense to the one who habitually walked it for over three years.  The path was laid there by our dog, Ranger, who died four years ago.  The way is almost undetectable now but to the eye that remembers it, there is still a thin line through the grass.  I use it as often as I think of it, in his honor.

Ranger was a wolf hybrid who lived with us for 15 years.  He moved with us three times.  Our "big move" was  from a 1000 acre piece of property in the South to a home on a rural but paved road here in the North.  For five years Ranger made the best of his situation, enduring being hooked to a little house which we settled among the lilac trees.  When we were at home he was free to head up to the fields above the house to pursue his favorite pastime; hunting and eating field mice or woodchuck.

In the preparation of clearing the land and building our cabin in the woods, we had the opportunity to move closer to Darling Hill.  I took Ranger on a very long lead, around the perimeter of the new property.  As we entered the woods he became excited to be, seemingly, back in his "old stomping grounds."  I watched as he went down into a clearing in the trees, came to the end of his rope and sat quietly down, slowly turning his head in both directions, perusing the territory, taking in the scent of the forest.  He became his old self again and for almost five years he beat down trails that curved strangely in typical Ranger-fashion.  I called them "Ranger's well-worn ways".

After leaving this location we moved just 1/4 mile up Darling Hill.  When we were at work Ranger could be found back down on the old property.  Even when a new owner bought the little house, he would see Ranger laying up on his knoll, watching over everything that went on.  The new neighbor had no pets of his own and said that he liked having him there.  On our way home from work we'd drive up the road and Ranger would come to the end of the driveway and run behind the car to the top of the hill.
I believe that he finally decided that the very top of Darling Hill was really the best vantage point.  He eventually stopped visiting the neighbor and kept his careful eye fixed on the home property and its surroundings.  Here is where he laid his last, long, well beaten path from the top of the hill down to the birches, under which he laid down for his last time as he passed from life.  Things disappear as the years pass.  Ranger's path is almost undetectable now.  Those of us who traced it for three years can only barely see it anymore.

I think back on something that I read in a small devotional.  It tells of an expedition in Africa.  The leader of the hunt said of the thick terrain that covered the path through the jungle, "There IS no way...I AM the way."  This relates, of course, to the walk of the believer.  As we have entered through the "straight gate" of eternal life, we have a narrow way to follow.  Jesus Christ has already stated, "I am the WAY, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me."  The path that a believer is to walk is narrow and sometimes undetectable to the human eye.  The only way that we will successfully be able to walk it is by following hard after Jesus Christ, our WAY.  The leader of the African expedition told them that there was no way that those followers could find a path; only by following the leader would they make it out alive.

Praise God that, though we can't detect the way that we're to walk, Jesus is our Guide!  I love the words of one of my favorite old hymns; "Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back; my Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack; His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim; He knows the way He taketh, and I will walk with Him."

In all thy ways (I was once told that the original Hebrew alluded to "well-worn ways") acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Sweet Savor

We sat, watching the sheets curl their corners at the will of a late summer breeze.  A day like this makes even "watching sheets dry" an exciting experience.  At times the wind seemed to threaten to tear at the sails, as in an attempt to move a boat from its moorings, but each subject was securely fastened with sturdy clips.   While we watched, I imagined the fresh scent that we would enjoy when climbing into our beds tonight, and the crispness of the folds.  Heated dryers, though convenient, seem to rob clothing of that outdoors-clean smell and feel; leaving things limp and lifeless and often with a man-made, "fresh air" scent that is unfamiliar to our natural senses.

Modern conveniences, in my opinion,  can truly add minutes to our day (and I partake in several of them myself), but as in the example above, some may take away more in our later enjoyment of the finished product.  Just as an example, I grew up with stiff towels.  Summer or Winter, our clothes were hung to dry on our side porch.  It seemed that our front door was there solely to serve in giving us access to the clothes line.  Here the clothes were put out wet and gathered in dry, or stiff as a board and almost dry, as in the case of zero degree days.  In today's world, I experience some towels that are so soft and limp that they do not absorb water and feel as if they might fall apart in my hand.  Good old stiff towels not only dry your back, but I've often thought, they give you a back scratch at the same time!

I read today from II Corinthians 2:14-17.  Verse 14 says, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."  It is God who causes us to triumph in Christ!  No modern way has been invented to give us a shortcut to growth in the Lord Jesus.  We still come to God in "the old fashioned way" when we trust Jesus' shed blood upon the cross for our only way of salvation; then we grow in Christ by the way of prayer and Bible reading, depending upon the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the way we must walk.   Verse 15 then says, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish."    No seminars or new methods will make this "savour of His knowledge"  manifest any faster than the way God has set forth in the Word.

Like the sheets on the line, sometimes the winds can "tear at our corners" while we are walking along in the way the Lord is leading us.  These winds come in so many different forms and would attempt to knock us completely off course.  I'm so thankful that my ship is anchored fast to the Rock.   Some of my favorite verses in the Psalms are from chapter 18. Verses 1-3 say, "I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies."

Fresh and ready to be used.  We gather the sheets in now, while their clean scent rises as incense into the air.

I hope that, first of all, you are in this right relationship with the Rock or our salvation.  I pray that your way is clear today and, though you may experience stumbling blocks; whatever comes in the path of a child of God will lead them closer to the Lord as they walk along the road with Him.