Adventures Along The Goat Trails Of Life

On Tuesday, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing a young church planter. Sharing his story, he revealed his struggles and triumphs as he not only plants a new church, but also raises his family and battles cancer. He painted a picture of what it meant to daily trust an invisible God as life became riddled with sickness and uncertainty. He talked about a community that rallied around his family, helping them through a potentially devastating time. Most importantly he talked about a renewed focus on what it meant to be living a life based on the gospel of Jesus, giving a very clear challenge to Christ-followers: “If we’re going to make a difference, I better be able to look at your life and see good news. If there is no good news in your life, then no one is going to notice, no one is going to care, no one is going to ask questions, and no one is going to care if you say something.”

When life is going great and I’m traveling along the main path towards specific goals and dreams, I have no reason to doubt. But when the storms of life begin to hit me from every angle, I lose my focus on what is important and I start thinking that maybe I should be doing something else. I look for new opportunities, dream new dreams, and pursue ideas that might be easier to obtain.┬áThese new ideas and opportunities are a lot like goat trails in the wilderness.

Hope Can Be True And False

Recently, I spent some time backpacking in the wilderness and I experienced first-hand the false hope of goat trails. As I bushwhacked down the side of a hill, I eventually found a trail and followed it, only to have it end in a wash-out. Hope was fading. I kept pushing through the brush, scraping my legs and then I came across the main trail. It was obvious that it was the main path as it was two to three times larger than the goat trail that I was following. Instantly, hope returned. True hope because I knew that I had arrived to the path that would lead me to the car.

False hope is a shortcut, a whisper that if I do something else, I will get to my goal faster. By choosing the shortcut, I remove my focus from obtaining a specific goal to doubting that the goal I am in pursuit of is worthwhile.

Whenever I am walking along the main path of my life, everything feels right, even if nothing is perfect. Even though I can’t see what the future holds, I hope and work towards the expression and fulfillment of that goal. If life crumbles all around me and I still stay true to the direction that I know to be true, then that is what it means to live a faithful existence, dedicated and authentic.

I am challenged to live a life that reflects the good news—balancing commitment, action, hope and purpose.

While the news can be depressing, fearful and devoid of hope, I know that hope exists because I have seen it in the face of friends, family members and complete strangers that have chosen to love in spite of hate.

Because I have been welcomed into a community and loved regardless of my faults (which are too numerous to list).

I know that hope exists because regardless of what is done in the name of God, the most beautiful statements of faith are often spoken through the deeds of those that claim no religious affiliation.

I know that hope exists because even in the midst of disease and disaster, there is something worth living for and worth dying for.

Where does true hope lead us?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

True hope leads us to faith.

Faith leads us to build a better world as we journey to our eternal resting place.

I’m not sure if my life truly reflects the good news, but I do know that as I spend time with others, I realize that for all the problems that we share, life really is beautiful.