I don’t know about you, but I simply like to find the easiest way on my journey with God. I would like Him to take me the way I want to go. Because He loves me so much, He ignores my petitions for an easier way and regularly leads me the hard way. He reminded me of this during a recent spiritual retreat. We had taken a day of silence while on the Island of Iona in Scotland. Brian and I were keeping silence but had agreed to meet at a certain time to climb the highest hill together. All was working great, being together and being silent. We were walking our agreed on path. It was when we started our climb up hill that things got difficult. As we walked together, I sat down for a little rest. We didn’t need to talk. He simply rested with me; but when it was time to press forward on the steepest part of our climb, Brian took the lead. There wasn’t a set path to go up, and it seemed from my perspective that he had chosen the hardest way. I broke my silence to complain that this way was too hard. But when I followed I saw that it wasn’t steep rock like I thought. I stayed quiet after that and just followed. That’s when I heard God speak to my spirit. That is the same way you are with me. You are always complaining because I am taking you the hard way, and you want to go up the easiest path. Sometimes the hard way is the best way!
I’ve got to admit that hurt a little bit to hear, but I knew it was true. It helped me stay quiet with Brian, too, and just enjoy this time we had together to journey in silence. I didn’t complain again.
I hope that I can say I do the same with God. The complaining He was referring to was immediately acknowledged in my spirit. I have been complaining for about a full year now over the same reality. I know that God could easily make my way easier. I’ve offered Him some great ideas of ways that He could go. He has ignored all my requests and keeps me on the same path. It is a hard path, but it has been a good path. The path has not harmed me and has indeed made me stronger. It has humbled me. It has taught me. It has contained many surprising blessings. As I walked in silence, I had to admit that the way Brian and I took was hard but lovely. I also realized that there have been so many lovely realities that I have found on the hard path God has been leading me. It reminded me of Job 23:10,
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
I memorized this verse in college and always thought of it as my way, as if I had put myself on the path. I realize in my personal experience that what Job was talking about was that the way he was taking was the path on which God had put him. Job didn’t choose to walk down the path of losing all his material possessions and his children, being betrayed by his wife and ultimately coping with excruciating physical pain. He knew the way that he took was a test, and he had every intention to pass the test. Job did pass the test in the end, but only after some good one-on-one tutoring by God.
Has God been taking you the hard way? Are you grumbling and complaining to Him while you walk, or have you grabbed tight to His hand and found joy on the journey? Joy in the hard times comes from knowing that you are not alone. God and His angels are close to you on the hard way in a way that they are sometimes indistinguishable on the easy path. We all like an easy path, but God knows that the hard way is best for us. I’m trying to embrace the hard way. How about you?