Winding paths vs straight answers
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or wher it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
Frustrated? I was beyond frustrated, pleading with God, crying out, and interceding in every way possible. The spiritual roadblocks still stood like concrete as I smashed into them daily. Or, worse yet, I watched my friends and loved ones crash nose-first into massive boulders thrown by the enemy.
In my mind I could see the solutions, the barrier-shattering breakthroughs that would set us all free, but I couldn’t reach them. Nor could I force my way through the frustration. Staring out the car window, I stewed silently, wanting God to pulverize the obstacles and shoot laser-like sunlight into the haze as the residue dissipated. I could barely articulate the avalanche of feelings. Instead, my fingernails dug into my palms and tears crept closer to the surface. We rode down the winding lane beside the state park, almost home. For a moment, my gaze traveled to the meadow beside the road. Cultivated in hay, the winter-short grass revealed previously hidden rises and slopes. A slender but growing streamlet wended between the meadows, collecting water from the heavy rains, dividing land, and meandering toward a distant field. Had I ever seen that water before?
Then I heard it. “Nature doesn’t have straight lines.”
I looked around, peering at the details as we drove. The tiny rill twisted its way through the lowest points, following the “lay of the land;” it did not take a direct route. Trees along the boundary lines seemed straight, but their trunks bent and turned as branches jutted from the main stem. Gravity bowed to swirling winds as rain slanted from the passing clouds. Flowers curved in Fibonacci spirals; eagles soared and banked on changing winds; stones fell into random piles at the bottom of the hill. Even the road wasn’t straight, having matured from a path along the edge of a steep forested knoll.
And butterflies? Forget straight. Have you ever watched a butterfly’s path?
The point remained. God commonly worked in curving paths worn in the lowest places.
“The way isn’t fast, nor direct,” the Spirit whispered to my heart. “Go around the boulders, or let me incorporate them into your landscape.” The path of life, He indicated, ran slow, roundabout and flittering, like the butterfly; but it ran deep, conclusive, and life-changing.
I wanted quick and decisive, but He worked in relationships and revelations, thoughts, wonderings, and random conclusions. My way would produce fireworks, blasting problems to oblivion but potentially causing collateral damage; His way, He implied, would produce life-change. I wanted decisive Star Wars battles; He was doing Les Mis gradual redemption.
I didn’t like the insight or the answer, but at least I understood. Certainly that lined up with Scriptures, not only John 3:8, but virtually every story of following God. Abraham’s journey to Canaan wasn’t exactly straightforward, but the long river route provided life. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert – in circles. Joseph and David endured more setbacks than progress to get to their destinies. The apostle Paul retreated to Arabia for years before emerging to preach one place and then another, and then another.
I had enough analogies to give in. Meandering seemed God’s way, however inefficient, interminable, and convoluted it might seem. The wandering and waiting had a point, and I had best get used to winding streams. I gazed out the window, following the twisting, running brook, and quietly, gently, began to enjoy the rain.