This August, Steven and I took a short vacation to Acadia National Park in southeastern (or downeast) Maine. I was thrilled to be able to share this beautiful jewel introduced to me as a kid with my husband.
Our first day, we set out to hike Penobscot Mountain, some 900 feet above where we parked the car. The first part of our route was easy, following some gravel carriage roads past a sparkling pond. We then took a foot path into the woods and up the side of the mountain where we encountered this beautiful waterfall.
The trail then turned steep and it was a very hot, muggy day. We’d brought a map with us, but it did not have topo lines, nor did it have all the trails marked, only the main trails. So, by this point, we were going on memory of the sign at the trailhead.
We finally gained the top of the ridge above treeline and were greeted by a lovely breeze – and a choice. Do we go left or right on the trail that ran the ridgeline? We chose left and headed up the gentle slope that was a very welcome change from the steep climb. After a few “false summits” we arrived at the top and came upon this sign.
Sargent Mountain?! But where was Penobscot? We were too tired to care at the moment and besides, the view was stunning!
After a rest, some lunch, and some time drinking in the views, we headed back toward where Penobscot should be, taking a different route back to the car. Well, we did find Penobscot but we didn’t visit. It was an additional long, steep downhill and uphill from the ridge-top trail and we didn’t have the energy to get there, nor would we have had we gone the correct direction to begin with. I was so glad we had taken the “wrong” turn and had the pleasure of the view from Sargent. Steven called it a “happy mistake.”
As we headed down the mountain to the car, I reflected on other happy mistakes in my life – times when I’d set my course, thinking I knew where I wanted to go, but then something changed and I ended up somewhere else. On each one, I could see God’s fingerprints.
I believe that God is outside of time as we know it and sees the whole picture at once – space and time. He also knows me intimately because He made me and knows what I can handle and when, even better than I do. And sometimes, He changes my route midstream, if it suits His purposes, to something better or more appropriate for me. These are His Providential Mercies, or “happy mistakes.” Sometimes I get glimpses of what would have been if I’d taken my initial intended course like we did at Penobscot. But, usually I do not and I must trust that these changes of route are truly for my good. This is where faith comes in, and a look at God’s track record in the Bible, my life, and the lives of others that reveal His goodness and sovereignty.