Over the Fence. Devotions from the Psalms (23:3b)

Over the forbidden fenceWalk in natureNo trespassing sign

"He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake." (Psalms 23:3b, NIV2)

We all face the same problem: we don’t always like the “right paths”. Those “no admittance” rocky ways look much more tempting than the admissible paths. Let me explain.

A couple of years ago in early October, we were hiking at Letchworth State Park in New York. It was a glorious fall day, made even more nostalgic by a train crossing over a bridge high above the gorge. Intrigued, we wondered if we could walk on that bridge. We were sure that the view would be unbelievable up there.

Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought this, for many were climbing up the side of the canyon, intent on reaching the level of the bridge! As we approached the railway, however, we noticed that a fence had been erected all around it. Where were all those hikers going? Maybe there was an open gate somewhere that would give us access to that bridge?

It’s then that we realized all these people were walking over a trodden-down, vandalized gate, stepping on and over a glaring warning: “Forbidden access to hikers”.

What surprised me is that no one was slowing down. No one even hesitated to ask themselves if it was prudent to ignore the no trespassing sign. As I looked out over the bridge, I wasn’t surprised to see that it was covered with people.

My family and I decided to remain on the hiking trail we were on, and we didn’t cross the “no trespassing” barrier. Unfortunately very few people followed our example, and we were well over the hill when we heard the whistle of a fast-approaching train ...

I am not sure what happened with all these trespassers. Was there panic amongst them? Did the train slow down? Only one thing was certain: the train would get through no matter what.

We were glad we had chosen to take the right path, for in so doing, we avoided unnecessary adversity. And as an added bonus, as we hiked the “allowed” trail, we discovered autumn in all of its glory amongst the calmness of nature. The surrounding trees were full of reds and yellows and oranges, and fluttering golden leaves floated down onto the path, already strewn with a soft carpet of various colours. We would have missed all of this if we had followed the crowd and ignored the sign!

I discovered that day that the ways God lead us are truly worthwhile, and much more intriguing than the forbidden ways, where adversity lurks at every corner. God does care! However we are the ones who do not always care.

A ticket! Come on officer. I was not the only one!

Maybe not, but I did catch YOU trespassing!

Rob Chaffart

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