Yesterday Vickie and I walked about five miles along the Ocoee River. It was a nice easy trail that wound along the riverside at the place where they held the Canoe/Kayak Slalom for the 1996 Olympic Games. The trail ends at the base of one of the dams (#3) on the Ocoee River. We had a great time. The day was absolutely perfect. And we are both very thankful that God has given us health and strength to get out and enjoy His creation like that.
We hadn’t gone far down the trail, when we came to a fairly large mud puddle. It immediately stopped us cold. We surveyed it carefully. At first it stymied us a bit. We really didn’t want to get our socks and shoes wet if we could help it. But after a bit of thought and planning, we plotted a way around the puddle.
Soon we came to another puddle. This one was a little bigger. But, again, after some thought and strategizing, we figured out a way around it as well.
It wasn’t long until we realize that quite a bit of the trail was going to be like that. We would walk along at a nice pace for awhile, then run into a puddle. The puddles served as obstacles to slow us down, make us think, and force us to come up with a strategy around them.
As the trail proceeded, we came to some puddles that we simply could not get around without getting our shoes wet. And, of course, we eventually decided that getting our feet wet was not such a big deal after all.
We found ourselves laughing at our earlier selves for the way we let the puddles slow us down so much on the way up the trail.
The Mud Puddles of Life
Later, back in the car, we were discussing the trail. And it occurred to us that perhaps walking that trail and navigating those mud puddles is a kind of metaphor for life.
As we live our lives, strolling along a nice smooth path, we often are stopped in our tracks by one of life’s mud puddles. Something unanticipated. Something unwanted. Something that has blocked our way. Life’s mud puddles may cause us to agonize for a time as we try to navigate through them.
If we are wise, we will recognize that these obstacles are opportunities to learn to trust God, to learn to listen to Him and to learn to follow His leadership. They are opportunities to learn that “He will make a way to escape that we may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
As we grow older we begin to notice a fascinating development. The mud puddles that would have given us great consternation at a younger age somehow seem less daunting. Oh, sure, there are bigger mud puddles yet to be navigated. But the awareness that God has gotten us through the earlier ones increases our confidence that He will enable us to navigate the more difficult ones. We may get our feet a little wet. And we may not be exactly happy about the bigger puddles. But we approach them and go through them without much anxiety. God has taught us, through the smaller puddles, that there is no need for worry. We may even find ourselves smiling at how much anxiety we once exhibited over relatively small puddles!
In the fifth chapter of Romans, God says something very unexpected about the mud puddles of life.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope… (Romans 5:3-4)
The Amplified Bible paraphrase sheds some light on the meaning underlying the Greek words used in this passage.
“Moreover <let us also be full of joy now!> let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character <of this sort> produces <the habit of> joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.” (Romans 5:3-4 Amplified)
That’s a mouthful! But I think God is saying, “Rejoice in the mud puddles of life! They are teaching you about endurance! And endurance will strengthen and mature your character as you prepare for eternity!”
God is good! All the time! Even when we are navigating our way through the mud puddles!
Stay in the battle!