St. Cuthbert’s Way IV - For the four days that I was on my hike across the Border regions of England and Scotland I was dependent upon trail markers to confirm that I was reading my map right. The map that I had was a fold out map that showed me the thousand mile aerial view of where I was headed. It was great for seeing the big picture, but as far as where my next step was coming from, I had to depend on my trail marker. The marker was a three-inch by three-inch plastic plaque. They were often nailed into the side of a fence post or on a tree. The marker bore the symbol of the trail that I was on. At some points in the trail there were other markers that were also on the same fence post or tree, but I could follow my marker because I knew what my trail’s identity was, it was a golden gothic cross with a dot in the middle. Sometimes as I was walking across a wide-open field for fifteen or twenty minutes hoping that I was headed in the right direction I would spot the cross off in the distance on a fence post. It made it easier to pick my path when I could see the marker ahead of me. I also walked with more confidence when I could see a short-term goal in front of me. I knew that all I had to do was make it to the next marker and then I could worry about the next one. If I worried about the marker two or three ahead of where I was then and started heading toward that one without reaching the sequential next marker I would get really lost. But I had to take it one marker at a time and enjoy the journey. This took a lot of concern out my hike knowing that I was only responsible for the next marker. On my first day when I was just setting out on the hike I got lost for that exact reason. I was crossing an open field and on the big picture map I saw that I could cut off a loop of the hike by hopping a fence and crossing another pasture and picking up the trail there. When I attempted to do that I got onto what looked like where I was suppose to be headed. I even saw a trail marker that looked similar to my trail and rationalized in my head that if I keep walking I would eventually rejoin the trail that I was on. I walked for about two hours thinking that maybe the markers had just been taken down and that is why I hadn’t seen one in awhile. So as I approached a farming community I checked my map to see if I was close to where I was suppose to be and sure enough there was a farming community on my map. I asked a woman who was gardening if the name of the community was what I had on my map. The questioning look she gave me was nothing short of discouraging. Then she went on to tell me that she had never heard of the place that was on my map. Another woman came out and they both looked at my map and assure me that where I was was not even on the map but about five miles away from the closest city on the map. All that hassle just because I tried to skip ahead and I missed a few markers. I believe the Lord does the same thing in our lives; he gives us markers to remind us that we are on the right path. I am not stating that the Lord uses ‘messenger pigeons’ to tell us what to do, but I think that there are things in our day to day lives that He uses to confirm that we are walking on the right path. But, like the three-inch plaque on a fence post, we have to keep our eyes open for them. A couple of weeks after graduation I was thinking about the job that I was taking in Dallas. It is all commission and I knew that there was going to be some lean times in the get go. I was looking at my bank account and thinking about how creative I was going to have to get for Christmas. I was praying that the Lord would remind me that this was the job he was leading me towards. I was in the middle cleaning out some old school paper work from my desk when I came upon a stack of papers that I had been mailed by my office. I sorted through them quickly and didn’t see anything that I would need in the future so I tossed them toward my trashcan. As I did I saw an unopened envelope in the middle of all the paper. It was dated October and I hadn’t opened it. Inside was a check for the exact amount of two bills that were due in the next week. I had had the check for two months, but God used it as a trail marker to encourage me to continue on the path that I was on and not give up. I know that these type things don’t happen ever day, but I also think that if we keep our eyes open to the possibility of trail markers in our lives we will be a lot more apt to see them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)