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Following the Map

This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore the beauty that is found in the Golan Heights of northern Israel.   The region is famous for its hikes, waterfalls and mountain top views, so with just a week remaining of my time in Israel, I decided it was time to do a little exploring up north with two of my friends.

On our first day in the Golan we ventured off on a glorious hike to the Gilabun nature reserve, which culminated in a spectacular waterfall view as we descended into the basin. The waterfall was breath taking and worth every moment spent on the rough terrain to reach the destination. 

The second day, armed with the pride of feeling like professional hikers in the region, we set off on another adventure that promised waterfall views.

Before departing on our hike, we received detailed instructions from the hostel owner about where to find the trail that would lead to the Zevitan waterfall.  With map in hand and full of confidence, we started out on our journey into the Israeli summer heat, and boy was it hot!

We had been walking for about 30 minutes when we realized we had misread the map and were headed in the wrong direction through a field of horses. But instead of going back to the point where we had gone wrong, we saw a short cut across the field, which appeared to connect to our original path. As we cut across the field we could see a sign up at the top of the hill in the distance, but we also saw what appeared to be a trail starting from the point where we were standing. 

So what did we do? We convinced ourselves this must be the path and that the sign up the hill was probably pointing this direction.  We discussed walking up the hill to read the sign, but together decided that would be a waste of time—after all, where we were standing seemed to be a well-worn path, not to mention the fact that we were already hot and sweaty and didn’t feel like back tracking!  So, filled with confidence we set out down the hill.

Now you can probably guess where this story is going. After hiking for nearly 45 minutes and not finding any signs of a stream or a waterfall, we realized we’d made a wrong decision in not reading the sign, it was clear we were nowhere close to our destination.

With a good dose of discouragement, we swallowed our pride and walked another hour back to where we started (by this time in the direct heat and uphill).  As we trudged back, we were quite disappointed with ourselves, as we had wasted so much time and no longer had time left in our day to start over. Our mistake had cost us the beauty of the waterfall. As we walked quietly back I mulled over the spiritual parallels that could be made from this experience.

How often in my life do I make decisions based on my own knowledge and not consult the Lord? Where am I so convinced that I’m right, that I do not look to what God’s Word says?

Psalm 119:103-105 says “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

What a beautiful image.  

The Bible is God’s instruction manual for our lives.

If we’re not reading the manual, how can we expect to know how to live life according to the purpose of God?

As you approach decisions in life are you taking the easy path that looks to be well worn, or are you looking to the instructions found in God’s Word? His way will cost you. His way means starting over and getting back on the original path, but it also means you are headed for a destination that promises streams of living water.

For me, I can say with certainty that a waterfall view that day would have been a lot better than circling in the desert.  If only I’d taken more time to read the signs.

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