I was enjoying my very familiar walk along the River Walk in downtown Jacksonville. It’s one of my favorite places to walk because who doesn’t like walking along the riverbank and watching the sunrise over the city.
It was early and the walkway was filled with dog walkers, runners and people like me who were watching the sunrise and taking pictures to share with their friends on social media.
My mind was swirling with all the work I had to do. My life is taking a different path and I had found myself stuck in “how to do this” or “should I do this” in regards to this new direction. I had felt confident but also a little worried that maybe, just maybe, I was out of my league.
As I walked along the familiar path of the river walk, I was talking to God – my Go To Guy – and asking Him for wisdom, guidance and assurance that I was on the right path. I wasn’t talking out loud as that tends to scare people and my inward conversations with God were bold and filled with questions about “what should I do?”
As I neared Friendship Fountain, the centerpiece for Jacksonville’s River Walk Park, I was taken back to the days of my youth. My dad, a single father to 3 rambunctious children, would take us to Friendship Fountain at night to see the colored lights light up the water fountain and he would let us run off the kid energy we all possessed. It was a fun place to go with a stern-faced father. He liked it because it was free and we liked it because we felt free there. An ice cream cone at the drive thru window at Dairy Queen would finish off the night.
I felt the memory and remembered the days of my youth. I worried about having enough money to live a good life because we didn’t have enough money back then. I worried about the path I would be taking as an adult and how I could possibly grow up and be anyone of significance. My future didn’t look too bright because I was different. I was a little girl without a Mom and only a Dad. When you are different, you tend to think you will not amount to much in life.
As I rounded the circle and was heading back to my condo, I caught a flash of yellow beckoning to me. I had never noticed these steps painted a bright yellow within sight of my familiar walk. I approached them with caution – because yellow means “caution” and I stood looking up the steps wondering where they led.
I felt a little fear. Maybe there were homeless people living up there. Maybe there was a bad guy waiting to pull me into the trees and hurt me. Maybe this was a mirage and I was going to be lifted up to another planet and no one would ever see me again. (Okay, that’s a little dramatic but “you never know!”)
I took a deep breath and started up the yellow steps. And when I took the last step, I found a circle of benches waiting for me to sit and rest. I was alone and no bad people or aliens were anywhere to be seen. I sat on a bench and took in the sounds of the early morning and told God I really appreciated Him showing me this new place in my familiar place. I could feel Him smiling at me. He loves to show up and do really cool stuff like that for me – and for you! Showing you things that were right in front of your face but you were too busy to notice them!
After a while of mediation and thanksgiving, I stood up and noticed a path that led me out of the circle. I didn’t need to back track to the steps, a beautiful path was waiting for me to carry me to the riverbank.
My shoes crunching the pathway were the only sounds I could hear and then I heard the lessons in my head for this day:
- First: You MUST take the first step if you want to go higher in life. I had started my walk asking God if I was doing the right thing and His answer was a set of steps I had never seen before. That was no accident. His message – my lesson – was He was taking me higher to my purpose and all I needed to do was trust Him and take the first step. That’s called Faith and that’s what He wanted me to know. Keep the Faith!
- Second: Keep going. Maybe your path has taken you left or right or you may have even veered off it for a while. And yes, some parts of it were scary and filled with danger, heartbreak and tears. But it’s your path and it’s a special one just for you. Learn to walk confidently on the path of your life and make sure you talk to Him as you do. You are special and circumstances might tell you otherwise but never, ever give up.
- Third: Rest a while. Once I climbed the steps, I was given a beautiful place to rest before walking the pathway home. I sat in silence. I realized that little girl who ran around the fountain wondering if she would amount to anything in life – was sitting here once again thinking the same thing. And I said to myself, “Will you ever stop worrying and just rest in His assurances and promises for your life?” “Geez, Billie, (and you) stop the insanity and stop worrying! Look back and see how far you’ve come, for crying out loud!”
My friend, if you are struggling on your own path, I hope you will find a place to walk it out with the Father. Share you feelings. Share your concerns. Share your fears and never give up. You never know what is just beyond the bend of your pathway. Good times are around the corner. Just believe!
Here’s a picture of the path that led me away from the resting circle above the steps. I’m certain today – this path is going to be filled with fun and I’m not backtracking ‘cause you never look back if you want to go forward!
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