In the late 90s, my family got wind of a wonderful trail to hike in the Sierras. We were told that it was a reasonable walk and that it would be accessible for our children who were then all under ten. So we took our guidebook to California trails, which supplied some of the information, and headed out following the direction to the trailhead.
Arriving without too much difficulty at the obvious end of the road and the beginning of the trail, we parked and got out of our car. There were other cars around it seemed a great Sabbath afternoon adventure was ahead. We looked around for the trail and selected the only apparent trail on exiting the gravel lot. This mistake lead to a rather dangerous next 20 hours.
We followed the wrong trail and then assumed by human deduction and the guidance of the now questionable book that we could move on and meet up with the trail at the bottom of the canyon. Needless to say we were wrong, and were compounding the first errant steps with those that followed.
I’ll save the details of this story for a future time but imagine the threat of a night in the woods with my wife, children and thankfully, our dog. I went into “protect my family and be careful of your decisions” mode. The night was long and uncomfortable and the hike back up the way we had come was difficult.
Early Sunday morning, my wife and I got our kids up and forced them to cross the cold mountain river again, knowing that our exit was the top of the canyon, pushed, pulled, dragged, and lifted them toward the top. I’m sure that my rather disoriented, fearful, hungry and tired kids did not appreciate the trip up the hill, but we all arrived a few hours later safely at our car.
Here’s the thing – Jesus stated that he came to give us, “life and that life more abundantly.” On some of those recovery days, when we have to retrace the trail of mistakes it doesn’t feel abundant. From the perspective of God a hard trail up the side of a canyon may in fact be the only “more abundant” option.
At the bottom of that canyon were hunger, wild animals and danger I could only imagine. Between where we were and where safety and opportunity lay was a difficult path. But that was the way to a “more” abundant life.
Abundance is more than the bare necessities, more than just what is needed but the path to it can be hard to travel. It may include hard things which only God could make “work together for good”. But even those are filtered through the hands of a loving, good and wise parent.
There is one more thing. I walked every step of that hard trail with my family hand-in-hand. I stepped in to lift and pull and encourage whenever it was needed. I made a safety harness out of my belt for my youngest. And without question, God is a much better parent than me.