This morning I wrapped up my morning chores faster than usual – probably because Little Bit decided to be more cooperative than usual. Since I was done and really just had to wait on a load of laundry to dry, I decided to pack her up and head out to a new running path I have taken a liking to lately.
Now there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary on my run this morning. Little Bit fell asleep on the way to the parking lot so the first half of my run was just me, a silent stroller, and the iPod. I dodged a few poochie presents at the last minute because I was lost in one of many praise tunes on the running playlist. I marvelled at a mallard who was making the most of a puddle left over from some weekend rainstorms. An older gentleman and I shared a smile and a word of peace as we got lost in a glade of bright yellow wildflowers as they caught a quick sunbeam breaking through the clouds and the fresh spring canopy of leaves coming on the trees. A chubby brown rabbit darted across my path and then paused to make sure I was going to keep it moving. It was a refreshing and renewing run full of prayer and praise for friends, my church, my family, and even some thanks for my own life and circumstances.
And then SHE woke up. And she had something to say about my pace, the temp of her juice, the crispness of her graham cracker and especially the fact that she was strapped into this rolling contraption! We were close enough to the end of the trail that I decided to let her hop out and walk me in. I needed a cool down anyway. Little was trucking along, looking at the pond but not trying to venture in, jabbering to the birds who flitted by and making sure I counted every squirrel along the way. But then we came to the corner of the pond.
I’m glad you can’t really see her face in this picture. If you make eye contact you will get distracted and you will miss my point. Yes, even in a picture.
Now you can see where she is standing, she has three choices. She can hightail it and cross that bridge to the right and be off and away leaving me to navigate the stroller in a quick u-turn, across the narrow bridge and around another corner to catch up. From her foot angle, this looks probable. But then there’s that arm to consider. Slightly cocked to the rear indicating that we could do a slick pivot and whip back the way we came. But she’s looking at me down the path towards home.
I waited about three minutes which in toddler time is an eternity. I called her name several times and asked her nicely to “come to Mommy!” I used her middle name and told her to “come!” I even tried that whole, “walk away and she will follow” routine. But she has my number and she knows that after 18 hours of labor and 13 months invested, I’m not leaving her behind. She considered every option from right there at that crossroad. Then she grinned, giggled and did her wobbly run to me with her arms over her head. I of course swooped her up and squeezed her tight and home we went.
Recently, I’ve been reading about the Israelites when they finally made it into the Promise Land and I just came to Joshua 24. Joshua is almost at the end of his time as the Israelite leader and he wants to make sure the people are where they need to be with God. So he reminds them of their past from Abraham through all the forefathers and up to Moses and Aaron. Then he reminds them of everything God has done since they crossed the Jordan. Finally he gives them a choice:
Joshua 24:15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Choose Israel. Are you going back? Are you veering off in your own direction? Or will you choose God? The rest of the story goes that they chose God – for a while. But they got lost along the way and the whole book of Judges tells a cyclical tale of a forgiving God redeeming His people over and over again. But look at your life. I know my own life has had many crossroads where I had to choose past, my own way, or God. Too many times my own way looked like a whole lot of fun and was a quick move around God and His goal and plan for my life.
What you couldn’t see about Little Bit’s bridge is that on the other side the path still led back to where we wanted to end up. Much like my own path. I thought I was doing my own thing and avoiding God when in truth, I was just taking the longer, harder to navigate way. And the past – if you really wanted to dwell there, I guess you could. Until you got hungry, or thirsty, or it got dark. Eventually you have to leave your past behind. You have to step forward.
Then there’s the God choice. He stands and He calls our name. He steps a few steps down the path just begging us to follow. And we know that He won’t leave us behind. Sometimes He even gets a little stern with us and raises up a trial to prompt us on our way. But oh, how precious and relieved and carefree we can feel when we run to the Father’s arms! And He may not physically scoop us up but we know we are home. We know we are where we need to be.
What is your crossroad right now? Is your past stalling you? Is that side trail really as appealing as it looks? Or are you ready to run to the Father’s arms?