Psalm 16–Path of Life

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

When we visit family in Arizona, my husband and I enjoy taking hikes in wide open, preserved desert spaces. Living in Minnesota, it is easy to forget just how tall the saguaro cactus can be, so here is a picture of my husband standing beside one for a little perspective (click on picture to enlarge):

Sometimes our journey in life can feel like a walk through a vast desert, filled with prickly plants and sharp stones. We can feel lost in the wilderness, a place that on the surface seems dead and lonely. The hot sun may drive us to the ground with lack of energy–or dust storms may cloud our view and choke our lungs.

Although it may look lifeless, the desert is indeed filled with living things–it’s just that it takes some learning and experience to find these things when you are new to arid environments. Besides the first things that come to many minds (poisonous snakes and insects!), there are also the lovely song of the cactus wren, gorgeous sunsets, and the sweet smell of sagebrush after the rain. Desert brush and cactus can even provide edible food and drink if you have a sharp knife and know where to look. There are also the raw materials for making soap, baskets, pottery, and soothing balm (aloe).

In the spiritual life, sometimes we suddenly discover God has transplanted us to a “desert”–that is, an unfamiliar territory that seems boring, dull, and lifeless, or maybe even scary and dangerous. We may feel upside-down, inside-out, or just plain lost. Nothing feels normal.

Yet, like the desert, there is often hidden life found where we least expect it. In the spiritual desert, discovering this new life may take longer than we would like. But no matter how bleak or desperate it may seem, God promises to show us the “path of life,” to bring us joy once again–the joy that is found not in worldly things, but in being in God’s presence. Whether we feel this presence or not, we can trust that God will never leave us, no matter what happens.

We may feel “lost,” but deep down inside, God is ever showing us the path that leads to spiritual life, eternal joy in God’s presence. We can trust that this joy will  resurface again one day.

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Until next time, Amen!

Spiritual Aerobics

For reflection or discussion:

Have you ever experienced a period in your life when things seemed overly difficult, frightening, or confusing? What helped you through that time? Looking back, can you find anything good that God brought about as a result?

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