My husband and I were on our first walk together in the Rocky Mountains. A gentle snow began to fall. We were in a canyon, and silence surrounded us. Everything was lightly dusted with snow. We could see the steps we had made. Other than that, the world looked untouched. We said very little to each other. It was too peaceful to disturb with chatter. I had been in the same area several years before, so I didn’t worry about not seeing a defined path. I walked a couple steps ahead of Tim.
After walking a short distance, I suddenly stopped. Tim ran into me and started to say something as I put my hands slightly out to the side to try to communicate I had stopped for a purpose. Without glancing back to make eye contact, I quietly said, “Slowly back up.” I pointed to what looked almost like a furry white blanket meandering across our path less than 20 feet ahead. It was a wolf. I had no interest in becoming a party of three.
As we backed up, we realized he wasn’t interested in us. He seemed to have been as caught off guard by the snow as we were. His coat was nearly completely showered with snow. He blended in well as he silently moved across the snow. He seemed to be looking for a place to bed down to continue an interrupted nap. He had no interest in us.
Tim and I stood still for several minutes after he was out of sight, awed by what we had just seen. Our silence was broken when Tim said, “Grab the camera out of the backpack.” I knew where his line of thinking was going, and there was no way I was going to pursue a wolf who was trying to escape the falling snow. He could nap in peace. The potential adventure was nearly too much for Tim to bear, but he agreed we had seen enough. We walked just far enough ahead to look at the wolf’s trail, but the snow was now falling fast enough to have covered everything but a slight dip in the snow. We turned toward another trail and rerouted our hike.
Sometimes we need to persevere despite obstacles, but sometimes it’s wiser to adjust our goals. Seeking God’s purpose for our lives and letting him reveal his vision to us is important. However, we won’t get it perfectly the first time. We’ll need to make adjustments along the way. We can have our life plan plotted on a timeline and intend to check off each accomplishment, decision and relationship along the way. It won’t be long before something crosses our paths that doesn’t just distract us but reroutes us. We can be just as intentional in our shifted goals as we were with our original goals. Goals are goals.
Think about when you were young. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did your dreams change? Did your interests change? How did your experiences impact your priorities? Who helped you clarify and focus on your goals? Who had little regard for and distracted you from your goals?
“I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his.” (Philippians 3:12)
God intends to keep you focused on the goal of your life. It won’t usually perfectly align with his goal for your life. You’ll have to constantly tweak your goals to match God’s along the way. It’s okay. He’ll help you. Sometimes he’ll place obstacles in your way, and you’ll need to rely on him to guide you to determine whether it’s an obstacle you need to persevere through or accept rerouting. You’ll get distracted, and you’ll need to rely on God to guide you to determine if the distraction is to call your attention to something God wants you to see or to help hone your focusing skills.
Even in the peaceful times, he might invite a beautiful sight to alter your path. Savor the moment. You’ll likely never duplicate it. Yet the timing and appreciation will affect your next steps and experiences.