After spending a couple of fabulous days with family in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my wife and I were suddenly faced with a day to ourselves. What would we do?
True to form, we decided to “collect” waterfalls. My wife had seen several on the map, and several more advertised on road signs, and we set off to find as many of them as we could. Just finding them on the map, however, doesn’t always answer the questions as to how to best hike to them or what is the best place to view them. Sometimes there are directions given at the top of the trail, but in this particular case, there were none. And so it was that when we got to an unmarked fork in the trail, we had no way of knowing which way to go. From information my wife had gotten from the internet, as well as from Google Maps, it appeared that the trail made a loop. We exchanged glances, and then my wife pointed to the left. “Why not try that way?” she suggested.
I had no objection. After all, she was the map-reader in the family, and so we chose the trail to the left. It was a beautiful hike down the gorge. We could hear, and sometimes see, the steam to our right, and eventually the trail looped down towards the creek bed. Unfortunately for me, the bridge over the creek was non-existent…
Please understand that due to my visual impairment, hiking can be very challenging. Especially crossing over rushing water without even a bridge! I have to rely heavily on my wife to be my eyes in such situations, and she always rises to the challenge. This time she picked her way across the creek, which, although relatively shallow, was quite broad at the crossing. Her goal was to find the best place for me to cross, and after what seemed hours (though it was really only about 5 minutes!) I could see her standing on dry ground; and as I watched, she picked her way back across to help me.
It looked pretty precarious, but by taking it one step at a time and by carefully following her directions, I soon stood on the other side, proud of the fact that I still had two dry feet! The problem was, although we could hear the rush of falling water, the purported waterfall was nowhere to be seen…
I was about to give up and head back the way we came; but when I turned to say this to my wife, she was already scampering up the trail. “It’s got to be just up here!” she panted in response to my raised eyebrow. “The trail seems to loop back up the gorge!”
It all sounded like a plausible theory, especially since we already knew this was supposed to be a loop trail, and I was soon “scampering” behind her. Well, maybe not “scampering”… In order to “scamper”, you do need two good eyes!
It wasn’t long before the trail crossed more water. It was a small creek that flowed into the main stream we had just crossed. I watched as my wife carefully picked her way from rock to rock until she stood on the other side. Even though it wasn’t as wide as the main stream, the water looked deeper and swifter here. Before I could panic, however, my wife was back at my side. “You can do this,” she said. “Just follow me!”
And I tried to do just that. I attempted to put my feet exactly where she had put hers. I must have been pretty successful at first, because I was soon in the middle with the rushing water flowing all around me. It was the first time I’d actually paid attention to the creek, however. I quickly noted how it spread out and engulfed entire trees. Unfortunately, these thoughts served as a distraction, and it wasn’t long before I completely forgot what rocks my wife had jumped on! I could see her gesturing madly and pointing to something just to the right of my foot. But that something was green… Rocks weren’t green… They were … gray! She must have made a mistake from the angle she was standing at! Surely she meant for me to put my foot on the gray area!
And that’s when I made my fatal mistake: I decided she’d never know the difference if I didn’t follow her instructions, and instead of doing what she told me to do, I put my foot on what I thought was a rock… Only it wasn’t! It was 6 inches of water flowing over a rock in the water! It was a mini-waterfall! And my foot went right under it, smack dab in the water with that little waterfall “falling” directly into my boot! I was in for a “shocking” experience. Besides now having a boot full of water, it wasn’t exactly warm water either!
My wife was soon at my side, and slowly and carefully, she guided me to the other side without anymore “foot washing” experiences. She then sat me down on a rock and proceeded to pull off my boot and sock. What came out of my boot looked like it could be a mini-waterfall all its own, and the water she squeezed out of my sock might have filled a large bowl… But the worst part was that knowing look on her face. She didn’t say anything. At least not right away. But I knew what she was thinking: “If you had followed my directions, you’d still have two dry feet!”
And if she had said it, she would have been right… If I had listened to her, if I had followed her instructions, if I hadn’t decided that I knew best, I wouldn’t have been sloshing in my boot at that moment in time…
Jesus is quoted as saying the following: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6 NIV). Somehow my waterlogged boot reminded me of that verse… I had done what I thought to be right, even though it went against my wife’s advice. Fortunately for me, it didn’t hurt anyone else; but it made me think about all of the other times that I do what I think is right, only it goes against … God’s advice! And some of those errors in judgment could have easily ended up with far worse consequences than a wet foot!
God gives us specific instructions in His Word, but it is up to us to follow His advice. He asks us to love our neighbour as ourselves. But sometimes our neighbour isn’t very lovable. He tells us not to lie and cheat, but sometimes those little white lies just slip out, or sometimes we make decisions that better ourselves. After all, no one will ever know! God asks us to be a good example to those we come in contact with; but sometimes we do what we feel is right, figuring that others won’t be influenced by our actions. The problem is, those little deviations from God’s instructions to us can lead to hurting others. I mean, when if I cheat on my taxes, the government doesn’t get as much money, which leads to the roads not being repaired and delays in medical care. If I don’t love my unlovable neighbour, then I have no way of witnessing to him or her; and as such, I may be keeping him or her from learning the good news about Jesus. And what if my poor judgment influences someone else to do what is wrong? Yup, I would be responsible for them stumbling in their walk with God!
I could go on, but the point is, God has given us His instructions … not because He’s a control freak or because He doesn’t want us to have fun … But because He knows what is best. Not only for us, but for those around us as well!
I would encourage each of you to spend some time doing some soul searching. Ask God to reveal to you where you may be straying from His explicit instructions, and then I would encourage you to repent. Only by following God’s instructions 100% will you be ensured that your boot will never fill with water and your socks will never get waterlogged! And you will ensure as well that you will be the best possible witness to those you come in contact with!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries