Paths and Poison

I’m not the most back-woodsy person, but I’m not a dummy. Neither is my dad. He was, after all, a Scout master for a while. During the summer of 2009, my dad and I found ourselves on the wrong trail. We weren’t in Missouri to go hiking and I was dressed in shorts and sandals. We knew the car was at the top of the hill and we had somehow gotten on a trail leading down. Together we decided to cut cross country rather than walk back to the other trail. Probably not the smartest choice.

The hill was not very steep and didn’t have too much undergrowth. We watched closely for snakes and spider webs, poison ivy and poison oak. What we didn’t know about the more humid climates is the other poisonous plant called poison sumac. And we found it inadvertently. I got full contact. When the rash appeared a few days later, I could even figure out where the leaves were on the branch.

I have never itched so much in my life. I have never itched for so long in my life. Chicken Pox was nothing. The rash lasted a month and would’ve lasted longer if my doctor hadn’t given me something to defeat the reaction. My mom said my leg looked like hamburger. My neighbor said it looked like leprosy. It was gross. That’s all I want to say about it.

Never leave the path: The Lord has set a path for us. We can know where it is at all times and He promises us safety if we stay on His path. No matter how alluring the quick walk uphill seemed, the choice was lazy and a little rebellious (1). We considered ourselves smart enough to wander and not get hurt. While we did reach our car, we put ourselves at risk. We risked our safety in unknown country and our health.Had we stayed on the path, all would’ve been well and we would’ve avoided a month’s worth of pain and itching, the sleepless nights, the doctor’s appointments, and the lasting scars.

Danger often hides:  Satan is a master of disguise. He knows how to make error seem like truth. My dad and I could watch for dangers we knew: poison ivy and poison oak. We knew to stay away from the “leaves of three”, but we did not know what poison sumac looked like. Satan also seeks to destroy us by making something terrible appear alright. Had we only stayed on the path, we would not have been in danger (2).

At the time, cutting up the hill made perfect sense. We knew where we were going. It was faster. It was fun and it was daring. We got what we wanted and seemed at the moment to get away unscathed by our lazy little detour. Our intent was still to do good, but our method was not correct. We knew we were leaving the path, but we could not foresee the consequences. In all things, we must strive to stay on the path. When we leave it, consequences do follow, but the Master Healer can help us overcome the consequences.

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Lessons from a Lady Bug

I think New York must have America’s supply of Lady Bugs. I have never seen so many lady bugs before in my life. In Spring, we found them in all the buildings I work in: the historic homes, the visitors’ centers, and the apartment I live in. They flew around all Summer. Now that Fall weather is setting in, they are reappearing in the buildings.

Yesterday, as my companion and I climbed into the car, there was a little lady bug sitting on the car windshield. I fully expected the little lady to fly off or get blown off as I started driving, but she hunkered down, faced into the wind and held on to the glass. She didn’t move as I reached 55 mph on the highway and she didn’t let go when I turned. Only when I reached a stop sign 3 miles later did she move, walking slowly up the slope of the window to fly away at the top.

That little bug understood the concept of “enduring to the end.” She faced her trial and held to the end. You might say that it was a matter of life and death for her at 55 mph, but enduring to the end is a life and death matter for us as well.

If we fail to hold to the truth,we too lose life. We do not usually lose physical life, but we sacrifice our spiritual life. We must hold true to the things the Lord has commanded us to do: study the scriptures, pray, attend our church meetings, and seek to improve ourselves through the atonement.

How do we handle trials in our lives? When the wind of opposition comes, face the trial and out live it. Do not let go until the journey is done. This takes courage. Do not be discouraged by the size of the trial or the fierceness of the wind; you can hold on. You can make it.

How brave a ladybug must be!
Each drop of rain is big as she.
Can you imagine what you’d do,
If raindrops fell as big as you?
~Aileen Fisher