The Path is Not Always Easy

Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

(Isaiah 30:20-21 NRSV)

This morning I took a walk along the Fairfax Cross County Trail, not far from my home. I was surprised to see a segment of the trail I had not walked before, hidden in the brambles. When I saw a CCT trail marker I realized that this segment was actual, “true” trail, and for years I had been bypassing it on an easier, more finished trail.

The true path is not always easy. It doesn’t run straight, but rather takes dips and turns, climbs over rocks, fords streams, and sometimes is so mired in mud that it’s hard to get a footing. A couple of years ago, walking on another part of this path, I slipped on a mud slick and tore my quad tendon, permanently changing my life: some injuries simply don’t recover.

And today, having chosen this very difficult segment of the path, I’m feeling stuck, paralyzed, unable to move forward. The rocks are too tough, the stream too deep, the way too narrow and difficult. As I look further down this path, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier—as time goes on, if anything, it looks like things are going to be tougher.

Why, then, do I return to this path? It would seem that the safe thing to do would be to avoid it altogether, to take the easier, paved road. This question becomes more poignant as I sit here trying to get the courage to keep moving on. Isn’t there a “strait and narrow” path that can offer me more comfort? Isn’t there a place where I can be safe and comfortable in the certainty provided by pavement? I’m not sure I have an answer to these questions.

But then, something tells me: I walk this path because this is where I feel called to walk. And I hear a voice behind me saying, “This is the Way; walk in it.”

So I stand up, and begin walking again.

The way is made by walking on it.

Chuang Tzu
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