Thank you, Debra Dickey-Liang, for sharing your insights and writing with us today!
When my dog Maddie and I go for walks on the weekends, I typically choose a route that meanders through my Dad’s pastures behind my house. Not only does Maddie enjoy all the things that dogs enjoy out in a pasture, but I myself have the opportunity to soak up all the beauty and wonder that God has created.
Once in a particular Bible study lesson, I came across this perspective: “Just as parents love watching the expression on the faces of their children when they give them gifts, so God enjoys giving His children gifts for the same reason!” Profound, huh? And so true!
Every day, but most especially on those walks through the meadows, I have the pleasure of receiving His gifts: the greenest green ever of the carpeted grass, the subtle differences in the shading of new leaves budding on the towering trees, the vibrant pink of the redbud or the brilliant white of the dogwood and pear trees. I am forever delighted when He puts a family of deer in my line of vision, or a gaggle of wild turkeys that run for cover in the underbrush and trees. Even the plops of the turtles that jump into the pond as we pass by and the quacking of the ducks that take flight as we get too close for their comfort never cease to thrill me! I can’t even begin to describe how exultant I am when the large patches of bright yellow jonquils are in full bloom in all their purest glory. It is so peaceful out there, yet amazingly I am surrounded by a cacophony of wonderful sights and sounds. I am definitely a country girl (just in case you hadn’t picked up on that by now).
Now you would think that in itself would be enough to decompress, de-stress, and restore faith for anyone, even for a person who carries around worries, fears, and concerns, most especially the kind that she has no control over and for the moment, cannot do anything about! And truly it is. But just recently, I was given the incredible opportunity to re-appreciate and reiterate “a walk by faith” in my own life through ‘The Analogy of the Tree Line’.
Let me set the scene: On a typical walk through the wide open spaces of the pasture, Maddie and I navigate hills, valleys, fence lines, gullies, creeks, and creek branches. All along the fences and creeks and encircling the gullies are stand of trees and underbrush. From a distance, these stands of trees appear impenetrable, having no breaks, openings, gaps, or places to pass through to get to the other side. So much so that I am concerned that I cannot get from where I am now to where I need to be because of these looming obstacles. Yet, I am confident of the direction that I need to go and where I will certainly emerge if I can just get through those trees!
On this particular day, after tramping through underbrush and crossing the creek, we began walking up a hill in the direction of home. Seeing the stand of trees ahead of us, my first thought was, “Wonder how we can get through there?!?” The second thought that entered my mind was, “Well, I guess I’ll figure it out!” and we continued walking in the direction that I knew would eventually lead us home.
After 10-15 minutes more walking, we begin to approach the edge of the tree line. At this point, I can now see that the spaces between the trees are actually farther apart than they had appeared to be from the distance. As we walk even closer, I can also see paths that the cows have made into this section of the trees, (and as any genuine country girl can tell you, cows have an innate ability to walk the most instinctive and direct route from any once place to another), so if a cow can do it, so can we! But imagine my surprise as we topped the hill, and there to my right was a wide and complete open span of green just where the one section of trees ended and the next began! Even though it had been there all along, the opening that I had been seeking had not discernible from far away. You see, it was my visual limitations that had kept it hidden from my view until my walk took me close enough for it to be revealed to me. Do you think that if I had only been taller, perhaps I would have been able to see it sooner?
Be that as it may, I am never going to be tall enough (nor strong enough or wise enough or anything enough!) to see far enough ahead of me to know the whole way before I get there. So I hang on to this analogy as a reminder that even though for the moment I cannot see all that lies in front of me, I will continue to walk in the direction I know that I should go, and trust that God will supply the open paths at exactly the right time for me to go through them. Because, after all, they are already there!
Amen…thanks for the insight! Martin Luther King, Jr. once said….”Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”