He Leads

Trail WalkingHe had a bush knife in one hand and a soda bottle full of water in the other. His flip flop clad, calloused brown feet never slipped once on the steep jungle path as he ambled along waiting for us to catch up. And there we were, a sunscreen-drenched, sweaty mess of a clumsy line, trudging along behind with our backpacks and hats and hiking shoes. We felt pretty good about ourselves, like a victorious herd of turtles, when we arrived weary and breathless back at our dorm.

The reality is that our guide was easy on us. He grew up on the trails around here, and without him we would have been hopelessly lost. Jungle trails were part of my childhood, too, but my 38-year-old body has grown accustomed to cars and sofas and television. That hike was hard. And it was the first of many to come, the easiest one!

I have to admit that I’m more than a little nervous about tomorrow’s forced march… um, I mean jungle adventure.

I’m not a fan of discomfort. Making my quivering legs take step after step, up and up and up, is not my idea of comfortable. And down here on the coast of Papua New Guinea, it’s the kind of hot that takes me well beyond the realm of glistening into an alternate universe where sweat takes on a life of its own. (But the way, did you know that nostrils can sweat???)

When I’m out there tomorrow, I’m sure there will be times I’ll be questioning the sanity (or at least the kindness) of our guide. He takes us places we would rather not go and pushes us harder than we like. For our good. Because life in PNG can be hard, and being fit can make it easier.

The other day I reading Isaiah 40 while simultaneously grumbling at God that this learning-to-be-a-missionary thing is really, really tough, especially for my kids. There have been times over the last few weeks that I’ve questioned God’s sanity, or at least His kindness. (Yes, I realize how sacrilegious that sounds, but it’s the truth, folks.) The life path we’re on right now feels scary and slippery and just plain uncomfortable sometimes. But as I read, verse eleven caught my eye.

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

He feeds us. He carries us. He gently leads.

The path may go places that take more courage than we have. But He is there, confidently leading step by step, up and up and up.

And the view from where He leads? It’s pretty amazing.

P.S. I didn’t get a chance to post this after I wrote it on Sunday. We did the hike yesterday, and guess what? The view WAS amazing!


  1. dale christensen
    Jan 27, 2015

    Beth, as someone who has section hiked parts of the A.T. I can relate to your hiking experience, when all you can think about is the next step, knowing the only way out is to do so. Not unlike our walk with God as each step leads us closer to Him and what His desire for us is, but like the views when we reach the peak, so are the peace and blessings knowing we are in His will. Thanks for your writing and your honesty. We continue to lift you, and yours up in prayer.

  2. Lisa P
    Jan 27, 2015

    God is so very good!

  3. Dad and Caroline
    Jan 27, 2015

    Sure sounds challenging but fun ( in a way). Wish we could be doing it with you but I am afraid you all would have to carry us.
    Love from us.

  4. carol vinton
    Jan 27, 2015

    Thanks for the reminders about how God has our ultimate good and growth in His mind.

  5. Erma Readnower
    Jan 28, 2015

    Enjoyed your writing Beth. He is with us every step of our days /so glad to know Catie is adjusting. The writing reminds me of while walking in a crosswalk 2-3-14 a lady from a stop sign took off and I was hit and could not walk or get in or out of the bed. At 75 I could have let it get the best of me. From the first day I said I would walk again. With Christ at my side therapy became a challenge but my calls to Him were answered. 42 days later I went home on a walker and then to a cane. Now cane is gone. We have an awesome God who hears our every cry Will lift your family up in prayer often. God bless the 4 of you.

  6. Ellie Gustafson
    Jan 29, 2015

    Yes, from my point of view, it does sound crazy and way beyond your pay grade, but in God’s economy, your jungle training will pay off, probably in unexpected ways and surprising glory to our Lord.

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