This picture was taken this past Wednesday during my walk through the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, which is located off Fairfield Road right after you cross over IL Route 176. It is one of the many nature areas within the Lake County Forest Preserve network. The rising spring temperatures made a walk through the woods seem like a great idea on my day off, so I strapped on my boots and hit the trails. I did not mind getting a little messy.
This particular snapshot captures the light of the sun as it is filtered through the thick coverage of the tall pine or fir trees surrounding me. I left the designated path intentionally to walk through the woods, not only because it was drier, but also to see what else I would come across. Sometimes going off the man-made path can be risky, but I felt sure that my safety would not be an issue, so I decided to take the leap. The result was this great picture.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately and it has been good for me to expand my mind in that way. The book I am currently reading entitled “When Life Is Hard“, talks all about the hardships we face in life, as Pastor James MacDonald paints a vivid picture of why things are the way they are and how those things factor into the plan God has for us. In one of the earlier chapters, he talks about the difference between a trial and a consequence. While many think these two words mean very much the same thing, in reality, they are very different. A trial is a painful circumstance God allows in our life which brings about change in what we do and who we are. A consequence is strictly based on what we do. The trials we go through make us who we are, as God has a purpose for every single trial He puts us through.
In my 24 years on this earth, I have been through many trials, probably more than I am even aware of. I have struggled to find my worth several times throughout my life, as I always seemed to fall short of the lofty goals and expectations I set for myself. These thoughts often took control when it came several key areas, whether it be school, sports, the relationships I had or tried to form, etc. In my eyes, I was failing. I could not be the the type of friend who was there to support people when they needed me. I was not always the best brother or son. I could have been a better and more confident teammate or work colleague. All of these thoughts combined made up the biggest trial I have faced in my life, which was the inability to get out of my own head and realize everything I had to offer. I always thought I was capable of being “more”, whatever that was, and never stopped to think that who I am was enough.
As I have gotten older and have faced this trial and everything that went along with it, I am finally starting to see things more clearly. It took a lot of hard work on my part, along with an abundance of faith and trust in the Lord, to get me through the tough times, but I stand where I am today completely intact. I know I will face more trials down the road, but being able to stand firm and battle the toughest trial I had faced in my young life is something I will always hold close to my heart. I thank God everyday for making me who I am and blessing me so much. I mean so much more than I realize and so do you. Just make sure you take the time to remember how important you are and that every trial you face is making you stronger. The Lord rewards those who endure.