This past week I took a drive up to the trailhead of Mt. Shavano & Tabeguache, and as I drove I looked up at the ridges leading to the tops of the mountains, others reaching from peak to peak like sagging cobwebs. The narrower paths are typically taken when people are hiking from one peak to another, as some do in an attempt to conquer two fourteeners in one day. And these paths are scary looking – nearly sheer drops for hundreds of feet on both sides; the footing consisting of unstable rock which can easily slip out from underneath your feet. Only the skilled – or daring – challenge these passes from peak to peak.
At the church I go to we usually always do a responsive reading – they’re the ones where the leader reads a line and the congregation follows, then the leader reads and then congregation reads, so on and so forth. It’s usually only one or two passes between the two; an orchestrated juggling act where everyone in the congregation tries to read at the same pace and at the same tone, but never really works. I’ve never understood the whole thing and it sometimes aggravates me because everyone isn’t working together on it – you have people reading fast, slow, too loud. It’s hard for me to concentrate when all that other ‘stuff’ is happening. Last week we read the following from Psalm 18:
Leader: I love you, O Lord, my strength. You are my Rock in whom I take refuge.
People: You have given me a wide place to stand and my feet do not slip.
Leader: In my distress I called upon the Lord and God helped me.
People: For this reason, O Lord, I will sing your praises.
Leader: Let us worship God!
To be honest, I don’t remember much of the sermon that week because that one line stuck with me: “You have given me a wide place to stand and my feet do not slip.” I have thought about this one line all week and it’s stuck with me, especially the first half, “You have given me a wide place to stand…” I looked up the verse, Psalm 18:37, to get a translation of it and see it in the original Hebrew. The first word, thrchib shows as being literally translated as “you are widening” – in the process, actively, currently, widening it right now. God is widening the pathway – it’s almost like David can see it before his eyes…he can see God plainly expanding the width of the path that David is on.
I’ve spent many hours in the woods hiking around, taking the less-than-beaten path trailing deer and rabbit or looking for that one amazing place to take a photograph. I’ve been in the thick of the woods, where I can’t see anything but trees and the animals know it’s a good place to be because I wouldn’t be able to see them. It’s dark and cold and downright forbidding sometimes.
But there are moments when the trail just seems to widen up, sometimes out of nowhere I’ll find myself in a wide open space in the midst of trees. Maybe it’ll be a small meadow, or an area where a stream runs. It’s really weird, too, because it doesn’t always seem like it would ever be possible for there to be an ending to the thick woods, but then the path just breaks open. It’s always a good thing when the path breaks open, when we can see it widening before our very eyes. When you’re on a mountainside moving from peak to peak, or trudging through the dark woods, and the path opens up, slowly it gets wider and wider and you begin to feel that you are safe – that’s when the breath of relief comes.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve been given the roadmap to take the path out of the dark woods – I’ve been given the chance to move along and the path is slowly getting wider and wider. God is giving me a broader place to stand each and every day. Sometimes I think it’s not wide enough and I’m going to fall at any moment, but it’s just wide enough to where I won’t fall off. I can’t thank Him enough for widening the path day by day and allowing me to see how blessed I am to have such a path.