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Navigating with Confidence

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

If you've traveled to the Pacific Northwest in spring or summer, you might not be surprised that this photo was taken on May 30. Here in Tennessee, the weather might be upwards of 90 by that time...or we could experience one of the many "winters" we endure through June (Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, etc.), when temps have the audacity to dip back down into the 40s or 50s after being in the 70s, 80s or even 90s. At Mt. Rainier National Park visitors likely experience snow in the highest elevations through mid-July.

We saw the mountain on an anniversary trip in 2019. It was what will most certainly be the road trip of a lifetime! We drove north from Big Sur, California on Hwy 1, or the Pacific Coast Highway, to Hwy 101 in Oregon, hooked a right at Portland to Multnomah Falls, then northwest to Mt. Rainier, heading back south along the coast to Portland to fly home. Mt. Rainier was by far my favorite site of the entire trip. So majestic, so massive. It's more often misty or foggy than not, so I'm grateful we had some incredible views! We didn't come prepared to hike, much to my regret now, but did enjoy several scenic pullovers. We drove up to Reflection Lake (it was ice covered, so no reflection on that day) and Paradise (where people were skiing and snowboarding -- on May 30!), Beyond that point, roads were still closed for the season.

I've always enjoyed hiking -- long before it was a thing that all the cool people do -- and being in the mountains. I grew up in the woods, traipsing or riding bikes through unforged paths, seeking out springs or a creek, hearing nothing but birds or bunnies and limbs or leaves crackling underneath my feet. It's different now, walking or hiking on prepared paths that have become so popular to the point of being overcrowded.

One thing I never enjoyed, and this happens even on cleared paths, is navigating exposed roots or rocks. One of the things I most enjoy about being in the woods is scanning for wildflowers -- especially in different parts of the country. It's fun to see what's blooming in other places at different times of the year. With exposed roots and rocks, you can't be constantly looking for wildflowers without tripping every few seconds. And you know the saying, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall" -- well, let's just say, I fall pretty hard.

The word "surefooted" stood out to me when I first read it in Psalms. I'm not sure I've heard it in modern use, but it immediately brought to mind images of some of the rockier trails we've hiked -- and some of the photos I managed to take at Mt. Rainier that day. I later read the same verse as a victory song from King David in 2 Samuel. A very similar verse is part of a prayer from the prophet Habakkuk later in the Old Testament. In each use, it's a prayer, a song of thanksgiving to the Lord for victory. The previous verses in these passages attest to the Lord's strength and power. All three say that God makes us surefooted.

Here are some definitions I found: (1) not liable to stumble, fall, or err, (2) confident and competent, skillful, (3) can move easily over steep or uneven ground without falling, (4) good at walking and unlikely to fall; showing skill or good judgment. I want to navigate through life confident and competent, moving easily with good judgment, not erring or falling during times of trial and conflict. Don't you?

So, what keeps us from walking with confidence, sure of our direction and outcome? Like me on a rocky trail, I stumble and fall when I don't keep my eyes on the path I'm walking. I'm too easily distracted by blooms in the distance. Or, I'm looking ahead or behind instead of paying attention to where my feet should be landing next. It's the very same in life. How easily we are distracted by anything and everything around us. God makes us surefooted when we're walking with him. We only have to keep our eyes on him, trust him, and find our security in him -- stay with him. Job 23 says, "He knows the way that I take." He just might also lead us to a great victory.

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