“You can only go on the hike if you promise to obey me the first time, Ella,” I told her. “It’s not safe to take you if you don’t listen to me.” She nodded her head solemnly and smiled her sweet smile.
Minutes earlier, she had disobeyed me when I asked her to return to the area where I supervised the students waiting for the afternoon hike, and I needed to know that she would listen to me. I hadn’t had a lot of interaction with her, because I teach high school and she’s in the first grade.
A month ago, Ella drew a darling picture of my daughter Sarah, who works as a teacher’s aide in her classroom. Sarah hung the drawing on our refrigerator. Based on Ella’s gift and her promise, I felt certain that I could trust her to obey. I should have known better.
She followed her brother Eddie throughout the entire hike, mimicking his every move. If he stopped to throw big rocks at the icy river below, she found a bigger rock and heaved it with her spindly little arms. If I called them away from a dangerous-looking edge, or told them to take a different route, she always responded last—regardless of our agreement before the hike.
And now, as I concentrated on making sure that a group of teenage boys would make it safely to the top of the bluff, I saw her round a narrow ledge on the rocks. Her ponytail swung from side to side and she looked determined to take the impossible route. Her brother tugged her hand, “No, Ella,” he said, “we can’t go this way.” She frowned and went back around the rock and came down to where I stood—at a narrow crevice that led to the top of the bluff.
Eddie scrambled up first, and ducked under a rock that was wedged into the crevice. The teenagers they imitated had managed to pull themselves over the big rock, but their arms lacked the strength. Rather than give up, he squeezed his little body into a small hole and pushed himself up to the surface. “Come on, Ella,” he called, “you can do it.”
I spotted her from below, and watched the intense determination on her face as she squeezed through and pulled herself to the top. I had to turn around and find a different route to the top of the bluff—I couldn’t fit through the hole and nor could I pull myself over the big rock.
By the time we reached the end of the hike, I was exhausted from herding students (note to self, next time, hike in a forest with a trail and tell everyone to stay on it—this hiking across the desert and ‘exploring’ rock formations and rivers with rambunctious students is for the birds!). In addition, I couldn’t believe the number of times Ella ignored me—always wanting to try the hardest way that the biggest kids took or staying after everyone else to throw the last rock off the bluff.
I confess to feeling downright angry with her. On the bus ride back, though, I had a little time to think.
How often do I tell God that I’m going to do exactly what he says I should do? I promise to obey him, to love him and to trust him, and then I rush off and follow the path that someone else has taken—completely ignoring the still, small voice that whispers in my mind, “That’s not YOUR path, go this way.”
I rely on the latest book or blog of a successful brother or sister in Christ to guide me, instead of digging deeper into the Good Book to guide me. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with being encouraged by the stories of other Christians as they share their journey and what worked for them. But all too often I get caught up in how someone else is doing it and think I have to make my journey over to match the journey described in a book—and that’s a cop out.
I become hyper-focused on what I think I should do, and completely ignore the One who knows what’s best for me.
I forget that I should follow God, not a fellow Christian.
I get ‘journey envy’ and forget that my journey will never look exactly like someone else’s journey. Click To Tweet We each have to learn to obey God’s voice on our own. So this week I’m going deeper and getting to know him better. Join me?
Inspire Me Monday Instructions
What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:
1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).
2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.
3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!
Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).
I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)
So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!