Show me thy ways, O LORD, and teach me thy paths. Lead me forth in thy truth, and learn me: for thou art the God of my salvation; in thee hath been my hope all the day long. (Psalm 25:2)
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
An afternoon walk through woods much frequented by walkers and joggers. None of the well used paths are firm and dry. They are safe when the going is good, but the ground holds the winter rain for many days and it remains soft in places. There is almost no route to take that isn't muddy or churned up. Care is needed. It's easy to slip, even where the path is steep, for it's hard to discern where it will be safest to tread, and the beauty of the place can distract one's attention.
This can be compared to paths that comprise life's journey in faith. Well trodden ways that are safe for people to travel when conditions are good. But, there are times and seasons when the changing climate of thought or the events of history make such paths unstable, risky, hazardous to follow, even though the direction taken and destination reached is unchanged. The journey cannot be delayed. It can be diverted to other paths, but there's no guarantee that they will be safer to tread or reach the same goal. Following the way requires something more of us than usual.
We must learn how to walk warily in changed and changing conditions, as determined as ever to end up where we long to be, but more consciously about where we plant our feet. There is no guarantee that we will succeed just by using the footsteps made by others when the ground is uncertain. Discernment is required, observation, testing, careful judgement in making our moves.
What Lent helps us to re-discover is that our own experience and experience shared are not enough on their own to enable us to walk the path of life in faith with safety. There is always a need to go beyond our understanding, beyond the known evidence, beyond ourselves in discerning the right way to travel, even over the most familiar ground.
Time and time again in our lives we repeat the Lenten journey. Each time, a different experience of ourselves and the world, different concerns, changed awareness, for better and for worse, comes with us. As if it is the first time, or the last time, or some time in between. We dare not walk automatically or inattentively when we do not know exactly the challenges we will face. But when we look to God to show us how to walk, as well as where to walk in faith, we can be sure that "All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well."