It wasn’t until I took the back roads to work one day during a traffic jam that I considered the expression, “off the beaten path.” I was traveling on roads that twisted and turned around farms that had been in someone’s family for many years. Families who fought to keep their land instead of selling it over to the government to push a straight highway through.
“It takes more time to travel this way,” I thought to myself, “but when we travel quickly, we miss the scenery.”
If that’s not a teaching lesson right there I don’t know what is…
If you asked me if I prefer traveling on a straight road to a curvy one I’d abruptly answer with a resounding “Straight!” (mostly due to the undesirable gift of motion sickness). However, when you slap me in the middle of a place like Colorado Springs – working my way up the side of a mountain – or some place like North Eastern Arkansas, driving through the beautiful scenery near the hairpin turns around Beaver Lake, I’d tell you that the straight highway just doesn’t compare to the imagery left in my mind after a journey of twists and turns.
Is it a coincidence that our experiences teach us so much?
Here are three things that I’m taking away from my back-roads journey:
1) I am so accustomed to doing the same routine each and every day that I often miss the splendor in the twists and turns of my every day. Cattle consistently trod the same path to get to their drinking spot and never feel the need to change. Predictable animals, just determined to fulfill the need and use the quickest, most familiar path to get there.
When I shave off minutes of my day by creating a routine that works for my family, that’s great! That’s being a good steward of my time and maximizing what God has given me. However, when I become so accustomed to the routine I forget to embrace and enjoy the moments that slow me down. Those moments that take me around the turns at a snail’s pace, allowing me to observe the details that were missed in the hustle and bustle of my busy life.
2) New paths mean new scenery. As a creature of habit and one that is more than marginally apprehensive to change, I have to remind myself to be brave when God calls me to the unfamiliar. Following Jesus almost never means riding in a limo down the interstate or on a learjet to exotic places. Following Jesus means walking off the familiar path and stepping onto the beaten one. It takes courage, but one thing we can count on is that He always makes those paths straight.
3) I’ve never been on a hairpin turn that didn’t take me to some place cool. Really! And while that might seem like a silly statement to make, I have to remind myself in the reminder on my trusting God on this. I don’t always care for the journey God has me on. I might feel sick to my stomach or weak in the knees from the wandering and the thought of never reaching my destination, but God has yet to lead me somewhere that I don’t want to be. It might not look the way I pictured it in my head, but when I arrive, I always have peace, I always have joy and I’m often pleasantly surprised by the surroundings.
So these little inconveniences are blessings in disguise, whether I like to think so at the time or not. I am embracing those twists and turns more now and enjoying the journey off the beaten path.
Where has God lead you recently that felt as though you were traveling off the beaten path? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
I’m joining the following writers for these link-ups today: