By Tim Murphy
When you walk by faith, and journey along the path that God has brought to light, your life will become more meaningful, blessed and appreciated than you ever dreamed possible. God's purpose for your life and His plan for your happiness and peace are all along this path.
If you live your life according to the teachings of the Bible, than why, you may ask, do I face so many challenges? If the path was smooth, you'd journey through it and get to the end of the road, exactly the way you were when you started. God loves you. He loves you exactly the way you are. This doesn't mean that He wants to leave you this way. He has a plan.
Have you ever wondered why a gardener would take a perfectly lovely hemlock bush, and clip back its branches at the end of the summer? Take another look at this bush when summer next arrives. You will see richness and a fullness of growth that wasn't there before. If a gardener can do this by pruning a bush, imagine what God can do with you. A bush doesn't feel the pain of the pruning, but as a human you may imagine the discomfort. I'm very sorry to remind you of one of your least favorite slogans, "If there's no pain, there's no gain!"
It's instinctive to walk down the road and bypass any obstacles that we see. But remember the path to God is narrow and we must stay on track. Therefore, any obstacles in your path were placed there by divine design. Because you have trusted in God, for Him to take you on a journey, you must trust that He knows the way. Can you see what's up the road ten miles? Can you see what lies around the bend? Can you see what's over the hill? No, but God can, and that's exactly why you need to trust Him. He knows exactly where he's going.
Hurdles you face in your journey, you may try to walk around. This would take you off your path. The hurdle was intended for you. The hurdle has your name on it and no matter how hard you may think it will be to get over, God never gives us anything we can't handle. Remember, He takes delight when you ask Him for help. There's a lesson on the other side of that hurdle that God wants you to learn. You need this lesson in order to continue on your way.
After a few hurdles, God may decide to place a mountain - right in the midst of your path. "Oh no!" you say. The character that you built with the hurdles will help you over the mountain. The mountain may seem steep and high, but God has a plan because what awaits you on the other side is the courage you need to continue your journey. Little by little, God prunes us. He prepares us for each season of our journey. Because you have yielded your power to Him, your journey will know a peace and a happiness that you've never felt before.
Taking any detours along the way will tempt you and sin could be on the horizon. That's why you have to stay on the path that He has lit so well for you. Follow the light. If you go around the hurdle, or try dig your way under the mountain, you won't be in His light. His path is laid out just for you and the challenges on it were meant for you. Embrace your challenges because each and every one of them are opportunities which will add richness and fullness to your life, just the like the hemlock bush.
When Jesus was here, he faced many challenges in His journey. The night before He died, He asked His Father that if it be His will, to remove 'that cup' from Him. Jesus knew what torture lie ahead. When His Father reviewed the purpose for this mission, Jesus counted it as all joy. Once again, Jesus teaches us the most powerful examples in the history of the world. Remember His example of forgiveness?
When I put my hand out to the Lord, I only ask Him to take me where He would have me go. I don't need to know my destination; I just keep my hand firmly in His. He has taken me to places I never would have known or even dreamed of. My challenges may have felt like pruning at the time, but all of them turned into blessings.
When trials and tribulation come your way; God has a plan. When challenges only appear to be challenges, look at the other side. They all are opportunities. These opportunities will help your life flourish and they were specifically designed for you by He who made you. Because you know He loves you, count it all joy.
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