We started our New Years with a hike. 2020 was quite a year for the world and we wanted to make sure we make the effort to start 2021 with the right perspective. An outdoor challenge seemed to be a good way to clear our minds and start with God.

But the hike started off wrong. Our map showed one trailhead but somehow, we ended up at a different one. We had to check the map to see how we could get to our goal: a pretty waterfall in the woods. The falls was only one feature in a system of trails on the mountain. One wrong turn could take us on a completely different course, and we would likely miss the falls.

We studied the map, starting with where we actually were. Then we located the falls in relation to our current location. We realized that the original course we thought we had to take would be the long way. So, we had to find an alternate, more direct course. Fortunately, we had a map to consult.

But it wasn’t enough to just have a map. There were several forks in the course and we could not orient our actual location in relation to the map without a compass. The compass helped us align the direction we faced with the map, helping us decide – do we go left or right?

As my boys and I trekked along, stopping from time to time to get our bearings, they began to talk.

“The trail is like life – there are ups and downs, the scenery is sometimes amazing, sometimes, meh. But there is a goal, and so we keep going.”

“Yeah, and we need a map to know where we want to go, and how to get there.”

“And a compass. Doesn’t work if you don’t know which way you’re facing.”

“The map is like truth and God’s principles. It makes sense why we study those. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where we want to go or how to get there.”

“Yeah, like a meaningless, drifting life. Yuck.”

“And the compass, it’s like our conscience, it helps us see where we are on the map.”

“Without those, you could take wrong turns, and end up where you don’t want to be.”

“Yeah, but even if you do, if you have a map and compass, you could realize that you took a wrong turn, and turn back, right?”

“You can always turn back, in fact it’s better to turn back if you are on the wrong trail. But if you don’t know, and go really far on the wrong trail, there’s a lot farther to have to go to get back to the right way.”

“Wow, yeah. Let’s try not to get on the wrong trail.”

They navigated our family pod successfully, and we were rewarded by a moment in front of that beautiful waterfall. They even got to climb up the side to see them from above.

We also got a good lesson to start the year with: make sure you take your map and compass on the journey of life. It’ll help make the journey purposeful, and help navigate the forks in the trails,. Even if you have to track back if you get on the wrong trail,  you can still reach your goals.

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