Touché September 23, 2016
Posted on September 23, 2016 by under Touché,

Lost in the Catskills

 This is a guest Touché by Wesley Joseph, who will be preaching this Sunday.

Crouching under a ledge barely deep enough to keep the rain off, with a scraggly spruce in front of me to block the wind, I waited for the sudden thunderstorm to pass over. I was between Lone Mountain and Rocky Mountain, probably the most difficult mile of hiking in the Catskills. Once the storm passed over and I had eaten my English muffin and cheese sandwich, I pulled out my compass and map. Comparing the map, the compass, and the terrain I observed, I settled on a course for Rocky’s peak. Half an hour later, I realized the spruce thickets and rocky ledges had pushed me off course and I reset my compass for a new course. Half an hour later, I did the same thing again. All in all, I set my compass four times for what looked like, on a map, to be a straight shot. That one mile took me two hours to cover.

Though it may not seem like it, bushwhacking is an emotional process. There’s “summit fever,” which leads you to push right through sometimes dangerous or difficult obstacles instead of seeking a safer or easier way around. There’s the constant fear that you’ve made a mistake and are lost. There’s the confusion of realizing your compass is telling you to go a different way than your mind is. But meeting the challenge of correctly interpreting the terrain and arriving at your destination is immensely satisfying.

In Psalm 139, David compares his own soul to the kinds of thickets and ledges I was bushwhacking through that day in the Catskills. In life, we are constantly tempted to forge ahead without stopping to consider how our emotions or motivations. How many times have you said, “I just didn’t think about it!” once you realized how you hurt someone else, hurt yourself, or failed at a project?

Unlike the Catskills, we don’t have a map of our own souls. Our motivations and emotions are often hidden from us. But David tells us that God does have such a map. God knows all our paths. He knows which ones will end in trouble and which ones will end in life. David believes that the surest way to life is to submit our own emotions and motivations to God and to ask him to consult his map on our behalf.

This Sunday, we won’t be discussing the topography of the Catskills, but a far more rugged, tangled, and even beautiful topography: the topography of our own souls.