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Second on the Left and Straight on until Morning

Last week I drove past somewhere where I had gone for a walk with a friend a long time ago. It was only a short walk, but at its end was a scene befitting a fairy-tale (or at the very least a postcard). A little stream sheltered from the sun by a row of majestic trees, to the side of a luscious green field. A place of tranquillity removed from the business of life, a place where no-one went, a place to be alone with God in His creation. Seeing a parking space by the place where we started the walk I decided to see if I could find it again.

As I started walking, I saw lots of things that I recognised, and with the aid of google maps I tried to calculate places where I thought this place of rest and beauty might be. During the walk through lovely countryside, I talked to God about all manner of things, and not least asked that He would help me to find my final destination. Soon I got to the end of the walk, but rather than ending in a peacefully valley, I had come to a busy hilltop! Undeterred, I looked again at google maps, prayed some more, made some recalculations and set of in search of this place once again.

Much like an adventurer looking for hidden treasure I scoured the landscape for signs and clues of this secret promise, trying to solve the mystery with my cunning and guile. Eventually, it became apparent that I had failed. The treasure was too well hidden, and it was a puzzle I couldn’t work out. Not to be completely beaten I decided to give up looking and enjoy the beauty of where I was. Heading far away from where I was initially headed, I found a magical walk through the woods where the shade of the trees cooled me from the hot summers sun and the song of birds filled my ears. I let go of why I had started the walk and instead enjoyed what the walk was giving me.

Then completely out of the blue the forest began to thin and then clear leading to a secluded opening; A little stream sheltered from the sun by a row of majestic trees, to the side of a luscious green field. It was the place I had been looking for, indeed, it was the place that I had given up on finding and stopped looking for. Far away from where I was convinced I would find it. Hidden from me, but not from God. He led me to it but could only do so once I stopped trying to lead the search.

I was staggered by this discovery and by the truth that this journey had revealed to me. This place was every bit as beautiful and restful as I had remembered and that was what God wants to lead me into, beautiful rest in Him. But it can only be found when I let Him lead the way. And when I do, the journey itself becomes a joy that I would otherwise miss because I am too preoccupied with the destination. Another surprising truth came to light too; whilst I could not find my way when I was leading the search, I also would never have made it if I hadn’t started walking. If I had sat in my car and said; “okay God show me the way and I won’t move until you make it abundantly clear”, I would still be sat in my car today. Sometimes it takes great courage to get out of the car when you don’t know the way and to say; “okay God I trust that you will lead me if I start to walk”, but if we trust Him and let Him, He will guide our steps.

Originally written for the July 2022 ABC Newsletter

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