Sideways Leading

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31 (NIV)


We had our annual family get away this past spring up north. I love spending uninterrupted time with my family and I love it even more when I can be out in nature enjoying God’s creation.

My husband found us two new places to hike this year and one of them was considered a moderate hike with hills parallel to a beautiful river.  There was a bridge overlooking the river and at one point, we stopped to enjoy a family of geese.

Our littlest loves birds.  Well, he loves animals but he has become quite the bird aficionado lately.  His interest in birds has gotten me admiring them more as well, so our whole family stopped to watch this family of geese.  It was soon apparent the parents were giving their six goslings a lesson in how to cross a body of water safely.  The father ventured out first, leading the way, sandwiching the six goslings between himself and his “wife.” That’s when the journey they were taking got interesting to me.

He started swimming sideways in the current instead of facing it head on.  And he didn’t just do this once.  This was his mode operandi every single time they took their goslings back and forth from one spot to the other, making them practice repeatedly until, I guess, the parents were confident their goslings could do it independently.

Not 24 hours later, our family ended up at the Sleeping Bear Dunes dune climb.  For those of you who haven’t been to Traverse City, they have a beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes Park up there where you can drive a scenic route around and through sand dunes or you can get out at one point and begin hiking by first climbing a tall sand dune and then mastering several smaller ones – as many as you prefer with as much time as you have.

This year I’m dealing with a few health issues that I thought would sideline me from climbing at all.  However, after the example of the geese the day before, my husband lovingly asked me if I wanted to “sideways climb” with him all the way to the top.  He said it wouldn’t put as much pressure on my injured foot or my asthma lungs and it might make the climb more enjoyable.  I took him up on the offer, letting him lead and I gladly followed, putting my feet where he had placed his moments earlier and successfully climbed to the top without much pain or wheezing.

God is amazing.  He puts intelligence into all of His creatures – from mankind with our intelligence to natural instincts in His animal kingdom.  I’m so glad we stopped to watch the sideways leading lesson from the geese the day before.  I gladly allowed my husband to lead me sideways to help me achieve my goal of mastering the sand dune.  I didn’t want to leave this year without having the chance to say I did it.  My husband saw that desire and with the use of a little creativity, helped me meet that goal.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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