Staying on the Trail
“My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” – Psalm 17: 5
I have belonged to a hiking group for nearly 20 years. We pad around the Berkshire Hills year round, wearing cleats on our boots or snowshoes during the long icy winter. Many of the various trails are well marked, but sometimes one of us will go astray and have to blow a whistle to be searched for and found by the group.
A couple of years ago my hiking buddy John and I climbed a mountain for what was supposed to be a three-hour hike. But on the way down we missed a blaze and eventually ended up on the other side of the mountain. After six hours we got back to our car. Fortunately it was an early October day, with clear skies and 70 degrees, and we had a bag of trail mix and enough water. No harm was done except to our pride.
That hike came to mind today when I read Psalm 17, which is a prayer of deliverance from persecution. The Psalmist, let’s call him David, defends himself before God by testifying that he has walked God’s proper path throughout his life and “stayed on the trail” of righteousness.
David was neither the first nor the last person to employ the metaphor of a journey on foot to describe the life of faith. Such a journey has twists and turns, obstacles to overcome, and choices to make that will determine one’s destination. It also requires that we pay attention so that we don’t miss the right path.
Lead, us O God, along your sure paths. We pray in the name of Jesus, the one who called himself the Way.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.