We were celebrating Papaw’s birthday by taking a long family walk around the bike path in the park. Luke, my oldest son, would also be celebrating his 8th birthday the next day, and after our walk my husband and I were heading to Academy to purchase him a brand new bike to replace the small, red bike he had outgrown. Four-year-old Josh pedaled his tricycle while I pushed baby Tim in the stroller around the bike path. Unfortunately, we were not walking fast enough to appease an energetic eight-year-old boy. “Mom, please let me go down this other path. Please Mom, please!” Luke said. The other path went down towards the bayou. Relenting I said, “Ok, but just ride down and come right back up”. Luke heard “Ok” and nothing else. Away he went.
After longer than it should have taken for him to ride down the path and back, I called his name. Nothing. His dad called his name. Nothing. We both turned around and began to walk down the path towards the bayou. We saw the bayou but no boy. We called, we walked, but it was as if he had simply vanished – our adventurer was gone. Dusk was turning to dark so we called the police for help. By dark there were helicopters and police cars looking for my child. I stayed near the car with the two younger boys and my husband went searching on foot while the police drove the neighborhoods. I violently prayed, “Lord, send an Angel – He needs your help. Lord! Lord?.” As I waited in the quiet, a dark fear crept over my soul. As time went on and the sound of helicopters in the air moved farther and farther away, the panic grew in my heart. I cried out to God. Then, as if all my faith had vanished into a bucket of fear, I informed God that if He did not bring my boy back I could no longer serve Him. In processing the entire ordeal, this momentary rejection of faith would prove to be the biggest obstacle I would have to face.
Over an hour later complete darkness had descended on the park. A police car finally drove up and an officer stepped out, informing me that they had a lead. I had seen too much television to believe a lead was a good thing. While he wouldn’t tell me what he meant, he told me to sit tight while he went to check on the lead. Twenty long minutes later a police car drove up with Luke and his little red bike. Tears streamed down his face and mine, as we were reunited at last.
At dinner Luke divulged to us some of the details of his long adventure. As he went down the second path, he was convinced that it went in a circle, just like the one we had all been on. He was going to make it a race and beat us to the finish. With determination and complete conviction, he rode 7 miles and crossed 3 major intersections – heading nowhere. When I asked him if it ever occurred to him he wasn’t going in a circle, he said that when he reached the third, four-lane intersection he became a bit fearful that he was lost. Still, his belief that he was going in a circle kept him charging forward. Unfortunately, no matter how strongly he believed, the path led him farther and farther away. He finally realized that there was no more path and certainly no circle. The fearful tears started flowing. It was dark and he was lost. Out of nowhere a woman appeared in his path. The woman, seeing the fear on his face, led him up to a house nearby where she asked the people in the yard if they could help. The woman slipped away as the family took Luke in and called the police. This was the lead the police had received.
Two days later Luke and his dad road the entire path together. Dad wanted to relieve the fear in Luke’s heart and teach him how to recognize his own errors along the way.
For me, it took much longer to get over the entire incident. The anxiety that I felt during the ordeal took its toll but it was the ultimatum I had laid out for the Lord that began to crush me. I felt like Peter who loved the Lord with all his heart but then denied Him in the midst of his own fear. I thought I was a rock. After all, I loved Jesus with all my heart. I was leading Bible study, teaching Sunday school, mentoring teens. Nothing could sway my faith. Still, all of that seemed to vanish at the first real crisis.
I would eventually overcome my failure of faith with friends walking beside me in support. I found my peace and my strength returned but it would take six months to process and pray my way out of the grief caused by my weak faith. Just like with Peter, Jesus took me in, healed my wounds and asked me to love his people.
I often think about little boy Luke believing that the path was a circle. Even the four lane intersections could not break his conviction. I think about his determination and belief that he could do anything on his own without any help. Our beliefs control us. No matter what the truth is, we are bound to what we believe and those beliefs will determine how we proceed through life and, more importantly, how we respond to the inevitable crisis in our life.
After raising three boys and being in ministry for 30 years, I have spent plenty of time with others on the path of life. What I have learned is that we need one another to make it. We need friends who will help us course correct when our beliefs stray from the truth. We need the help of those who have traveled down the path before us to let us recognize the dead ends. With that in mind, I have joined with my friend, Stephanie, to create Pathway Insights. We want to partner with those on the path of life providing courage, strength and direction when we can, while learning from those who are walking with Christ in ways we have not experienced. We are all about Kingdom living, bringing Heaven to Earth, and doing life with excellence for the glory of the Kingdom. We are stepping out of the boat and inviting others to step out with us – onto the path of life.
A little boy riding his bike for seven long miles because he believed he was following a circle ends up lost and at a dead end. A mom who believes nothing can shake her faith finds it plummeting, leaving her to reassess her own beliefs about both God and herself. Both mother and child find they need help, not just from God, but from others. Life is about partnering with the Holy Spirit and those He brings onto our path. Stephanie and I are excited to step out of the boat and into a new journey – we call it Pathway Insights. We invite you to walk with us.