“Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose],
and let your gaze be straight before you.
Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright.
Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.
When I was a young, single buckaroo in southeastern Oregon, I was sent with one of the guys on the crew to check a fence line in the Steens mountains. I was the only one on the crew at the time who knew how to get up to the “pasture” we were going to be turning cows into.
It was wintertime, but the weather at headquarters was pretty temperate that day. We headed out like we always did . . . no extra coats, no food, and no water. The “pasture” we were headed to was pretty big and I didn’t know it all that well. I knew there was a cow camp at the back side of it because I had been to it from a different section of the Steens before. Our boss said if we couldn’t make it back to headquarters, we could stay the night there, all we had to do was follow the fence line and we would find it.
So, as soon as we made it up the steep trail to the fence line, it started to snow. And not just a little. It was an all out whiteout blizzard. One thing I remember vividly about the Steens, is the rock that covers so much of the country up there. Normally, when working big cattle country, you’re pretty much always at a long trot unless you’re trailing cows. But because of the unrelenting rock, it was nearly impossible to trot our horses anywhere up there – which made for some excruciatingly long, slow days in the saddle. On this particular excursion, there was already a foot of snow covering the rock which made it all the more difficult!
At this point, we had two choices: either we head back the way we came or continue up the fence line to cow camp. Considering the fact that I had never been to the cabin from that direction and didn’t know how far away we were (and checking the fence under snow was kinda pointless!) I voted for heading back to the pickup. Well, the bright cowboy I was riding with had a third idea. Head straight through the mountains in the direction of headquarters. The problem I saw with that idea was twofold: there were only three ways off the mountain, and not only that, but there was a creek that ran through the section we were in that lined a hundred foot cut into the mountain that was impassable. That gorge winds it’s way through the mountains, making a direct route from where we were – impossible.
But of course, I was “just the girl” in this dynamo duo and my partner was some kind of bonafide Indian tracker/tough cowboy guy who decided he would go his “direct” route with OR without me. As he rode away, I thought it would be better to stick together, no matter how unwise the plan seemed to me.
So, we wandered through the mountains towards the setting sun, not a whole lot of progress being made. Just before dark, we found a tree that had a little bare spot underneath it where we could build a fire and try to stay warm for the duration of the night. We were able to find enough dead branches to keep a fire going and used our saddle pads as insulation from the cold ground as the horses stood hobbled nearby. I don’t think I quit shivering all night, even with the fire.
The next morning we headed out early . . . Wandered some more . . . . And finally, we made it back to headquarters that evening. The horses were guant and had cuts up their legs from the rock buried snow they had to trudge through for two long days.
Sometimes, I find my spiritual life looks like that. God has laid out a path for me to follow in His steps, but there are so many distractions. So many responsibilities pulling me in so many different directions. When I walk in pride instead of by faith and trust in the One who holds the world together in His hand, I end up taking a detour through the wilderness that leaves me worn out, thirsty, hungry, cold, and sleepless. But He is always beckoning me to look to Him. And if I would just look up and keep my eyes focused on Him, He promises to direct each step. By His leading I will not faulter. I will not fail. I will not stumble, even through a rocky, snow blown wilderness if He is my guide. He knows my path before I step out and His plan is always good.
Lord, help me to walk in Your ways that Your glory may be established in my steps!