What In The Blue Blazes?
Hiking is one of my things. In 2018, I visited all 56 state parks in Tennessee… and then decided to do a bit of wandering because I needed more trails (there are plenty more trails in Tennessee, but I was ready for something different). So, I took off.
I meandered east a bit and then worked my way north. Recently, I found myself in Acadia National Park.
If you go hiking in Acadia National Park, your path will be marked with blue blazes and cairns. These two visual reminders keep you on the right trail; but it's easy to get distracted. Sitting down to take in a view… snapping a photo of a cool tree… working around a larger group of people… or picking up an interesting rock (maybe that’s just me).
Then you stop. Your head perks up and swivels around - trying to figure out where you’re “supposed” to be. Rocks and trees in every direction… and they all look relatively the same. Then you spot it - either a cairn or a blue blaze. That’s the direction.
God has a plan and a path for us, but we tend to get sidetracked. We want to sit and rest, take a selfie, move past a perceived obstacle, or pick up baggage! While all of this can look attractive, it takes us away from the path that God has for us. So, what do we do when that happens?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
It can be hard - especially when we’re trying to sift through a bunch of trees and rocks and vistas, or relationships and expectations and maybe some ridiculous class assignments - to figure out what Jesus looks like. In the midst of chaos, everything might seem to run together. When that’s happening, how do we find him?
What does His blaze look like?
A person/people who will hold us accountable (Colossians 3:12-16): Christ doesn’t put us into a body of believers so that we can sound better when we all sing together. This whole section of verses in Colossians is about being part of that group… but I especially love what it says in verse 16 - teaching and admonishing one another. Admonish means to reprimand or to advise someone. The people in your community of faith should not only be teaching you who Christ is and how to understand his Word, but also correcting you when you veer off-course. If you’re in a solid community but you’re not being held accountable in your walk, look around for a wise, trusted woman who can help you out with that.
Scriptural confirmation (2 Timothy 3:16-17): The Bible is not just an old dusty book that we should read on Sundays. Instead, we should look to it for wisdom. If you look at the direction of your life and you see that it is blatantly opposed to scripture, rethink some things. You can only do this, though, if you’re in it on a regular basis. Reading your Bible on a daily basis might seem new and foreign to you! If that’s the case, then I’d suggest starting with the Psalms or some of Paul’s letters (1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, etc).
An opportunity to use your gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11): In 1 Corinthians, Paul outlines the spiritual gifts. But before he starts listing the gifts, he says To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. We are gifted in order to serve the body. If you’re struggling to know whether or not you’re on God’s path, look at the way that you are serving. At some point, God will probably push you to try new things and engage with people in challenging ways; but you’ll likely find some level of comfort as long as you’re working within your gifts. I absolutely hate being in front of people, but during college I found myself leading multiple Bible studies for my peers… tapping into a gift for teaching. There was a very strong level of discomfort, but at the same time it felt “right” because I was using the gift that God had given me. (see also: 1 Peter 4:10-11)
Eternity-focused (2 Corinthians 4:16-18): Life is hard. Life is distracting. Life is chaotic. But, as Christians, we should place our hope and our purpose in something besides this life. If you’re feeling weighed down and constantly distracted by day to day life, consider giving some of that to God. Ask him to readjust your vision so that you are focused on something besides the day-to-day.
This isn’t easy. It takes constant redirection towards God and his plan for our lives. And, like the verse in Hebrews says… it takes endurance. You will get distracted along the way. There will be obstacles. But trust that God has grace when that happens and just remember to turn your eyes back to him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Elizabeth spent the past six years doing life in Nashville, TN… from grad school to working in a pie shop to running after school programs. But then she got a little antsy. She’s currently in a season of “wandering”…exploring the people, tastes and experiences that the country has to offer. As she set out on this journey her hope was to engage with people in more authentic ways and to hike everything possible. If you're curious about where she is and what she's up to, visit sunsetsstormclouds.home.blog.