Seeking Trail Markers to Heaven

33 Single Track loblolly
Loblolly Trail, Raleigh, NC

I ran a wooded trail alone today for the first time. It’s remarkable only because I have no sense of direction, so I typically enlist a friend or my husband to navigate so I can enjoy the run. In tow, I am free to focus on my surroundings and my usually clumsy footwork. Alone, I found myself obsessed with the next trail marker. I tried to take in the sun glinting through the trees, the creek running by my side and the shuffling of leaves underfoot, but a current of anxiety taunted me that I would not find my way home. My pursuit of Jesus parallels this journey, with each new trail marker leading to a greater sense of joy and confidence. Each time I spy a new one, my  impulse is to cry out, “I see you, Jesus!”

I’d like to share a couple of the recent trail markers the Lord has placed along my path. And, I would love to hear yours as well.

When I wake at night, which I do often now that I’m over 40, I listen to sermons online. Right  now I’m in a series called “Blood,” which explores why blood is necessarily central to our faith; a topic I’ve struggled to understand. It begins with the first covenant God makes in blood, to deliver the promised land to Abram, in Genesis 15:8-9 :

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

While God’s reply to Abram’s question seems non-responsive, Abram immediately recognizes it as an invitation to covenant, and in his culture, he knows what to do next.

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

He is entering a contract with the Almighty, and it will be sealed in blood. In Abram’s day each party walked through the blood of the carcasses, symbolically stating that to break the agreement was to invite the fate of these animals on oneself. But here’s the catch: Abram never walks the walk; God does it for him. As he lay in appropriate dread of inking a deal with the creator of the universe, God accepts both sides of the deal in a Biblical, “heads you win, tails I lose” proposition:

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram….

The fix was in from the beginning. Even as God chose Abram to become the father of His chosen people Israel, He knew fully what He was signing up for. He knew we would fall away again and again. He knew our salvation would be up to Him, and He knew there would be blood.

Another, more lighthearted but equally provocative trail marker popped up recently during my self-study of Max Lucado’s “Experiencing the Love of Jesus.” After reading several citations from Genesis, I resolved to look next for a study of Genesis; afterall, who starts any book in the middle? The next day my friend shared with me her lesson from Bible Study Fellowship, an international study I introduced her to, and participated in until about two years ago. “What are you studying this year?” Her answer of course: “Genesis.”  Immediately I felt the warmth of God’s smile and could almost hear Him chuckle, “Do you hear me  now?”(I start BSF again next week.)

These trail markers illuminate the character of God, and fill me with awe, first at how all the pieces fit together so divinely, and second in gratitude that He cares enough  to reveal each new truth. And all He asks in response  is that I take another step forward on the path he lays before me.

  • What trail markers has the Lord illuminated on your path recently?
  • Do you seek His markers in a spirit of love and confidence or fear and anxiety?
  • Have you thanked God lately for leading you home to Him in ways that are both small and large?
  • Who needs to hear the story of your trail markers to step forward on their path to heaven?

Read more about the paths of the Lord:

Job 24:13: There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

Job 33:11: He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.

Psalm 17:5: My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.

Psalm 23:3: He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Psalm 25:4: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp unto my feet, a light on my path.

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