“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me (Psalm 138:7).”
In James Alexander Thom’s historical novel “Follow the River”, two women kidnapped by Shawnee Indians are making their escape down the Ohio River. One of the women, Mary, memorized her trek from Virginia to the Indian village where she was taken after her capture. She paid particular attention to the rivers she passed on her way. Now she and her older Dutch companion Ghetel are following the rivers back.
As they travel, they run into impassable tributaries of the Ohio. So they have to go many miles downstream to find a place where they can ford across these waterways. These detours are a test of endurance and time-consuming, but they are necessary for them to safely reach their destination.
In once instance, Ghetel convinces Mary that they should take a shortcut across a flooded stream by using what she called a “bridge”. This way across the tributary is actually a log of dubious stability. But the old woman crosses on the log, showing the older woman that they can in fact safely make it.
However, Mary is having a bad feeling about the whole thing. She has learned to heed these kinds of feelings and puts up a big protest. But she finally consents to cross on the log.
What Ghetel doesn’t take into account in her attempt to shorten the journey is the difficulty their horse will have making the crossing. The horse falls into the water, upsets the stability of the log, and generally creates a chaotic situation. Mary and Ghetel barely escape with their lives.
According to the wise author of Proverbs, a conscientious person stays away from things that can do them harm. They might make plans, but they submit them to God and let Him have the final say. Believers will find that God will sometimes upset their careful planning and send them down arduous paths they would rather not travel (Proverbs 16:1,9,17).
When we find ourselves going down roads that seem a long way from helping us reach our destination, we have to remind ourselves Who is in charge. God has the ultimate GPS. He sees all the troubles ahead and leads us down the way of safety. From an eternal standpoint, Jesus has been down the trail to our ultimate destination and He knows how to get there (Hebrews 4:13,14-15).
In our life journey we may think we know the correct route and proceed down a course God knows will lead to our destruction (Proverbs 16:25). So in His love he directs us another way, which may be longer and more painstaking, but one which will lead us to the place we need to be in His wisdom.
Ghetel should have listened to Mary. Instead, she proudly insisted on her way and almost led them both to ruin. Like Mary, we need to listen to those whispers in our spirit that tell us that our plan doesn’t seem right, even if others think we’re nuts. In many cases, God is telling us through His Spirit within us that we are heading toward trouble.