I thought I knew the way.
My Guide had led me to the forest –
I thought the way through the forest would be simple, the path easily found.
I discovered the way through the forest was first through a swamp, then through darkness;
My feet were wet, my clothes were sodden, and the woods enclosed around me like a wet leaf; not kindly, but menacingly.
As I walked, my spirits sank. The doubt grew and the fingers of the darkness began to find their way into my soul.
There was no one.
Why this path?
I thought I knew the way, O Lord. I thought the path you should give me would be through the mountains – I have always liked mountains.
And if not the mountains, then a beautiful forest at least; one with plenty of sunshine, with birds and fellow travelers to help me along.
Why have you given me the lonely path; the path through the damp trees, without another soul to call ‘friend?’
I knew not why.
I remembered her- a fellow traveler- whose path had taken her through sunny fields with wildflowers nodding their heads and the free birds singing merrily.
I remembered her happy path, a path free of stones and full of life.
The rough stones cut now. There is the sound of a wild creature somewhere in the depths of the forest. I shudder and move quicker.
Why this path, O Lord? I know you are good, but I see little purpose, little goodness in this.
I walked, and as I walked, I knew no one. The rays of sunshine through the branches above were faint and dim.
The voice of doubt grew strong. Teeth chatter as the cold reaches to my bones.
I stop, hearing nothing but the beating of my own heart, low and unkind. I hear nothing but those voices, telling me to question the hand of the Guide.
I look skyward- where the sky ought to be- and cry, ‘O Guide, show me the way! Though I do not understand the way, I know You Are the way. Through the thickening gloom, O Guide, help me in my faithlessness.’
When at last I neared the end, and the light was warm and kind once again.
A solemn meadow before me, full of dew and sunlight sprinkled on the drops and I looked back.
Why the swamp? Why the dark, menacing forest? Why that way, O Guide?
The answer comes as quiet and low as the murmuring song of the wind through the branches I left behind –
“you needed it. You didn’t know you needed it, child. That forest was for YOU. Because I, your Guide am Goodness and Love itself, I wouldn’t have had it any other way for you.
I love you too much to let you go through the easy meadow, the mountains you wanted.
Would you have looked up to me amidst the sweet, easy meadows; the calm and magnificent mountains where your heart was happy and sure and asked to see My Hand? No, child, you would not have.
Do you not see? You needed that forest to know you needed Me.”
I thought I knew the way – I did not. But One did, and for this I am glad.
“For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be out guide even unto death.” Psalm 48:14