Who’s Your Trail Guide through Life?

Life—like many outdoor adventures—can be treacherous. How do we know we’re taking the right trail?

"who's your trail guide?" with image of two people kayaking on one paddleboarding on the ocean

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory in great joy…”

Jude 24 (World English Bible, public domain)

In the context of this verse, Jude is warning his readers about false teachers. So when he talks about stumbling, it’s not sinning he’s referring to so much as it is stumbling over false teaching.

How can we recognize false teaching? The best way is to know what the truth is.

The word of God—the Bible—is our most reliable source of truth. It’s hard for false teachers to dupe people into believing falsehood when they know the truth. On the flip side, it’s easy for false teachers to dupe people who don’t read the Bible or know what it says.

It’s like trekking through the unknown wilderness with an experienced guide.

The Value of an Experienced Guide in the Outdoors

The more treacherous the environment, the more valuable the guide! The guide knows the conditions, the terrain, the weather patterns and potential hazards.

group of people on horseback take a steep switchback trail through the trees and down a mountainside
The lead wrangler leads us on a steep switchback trail down the mountainside

The more risk involved, the more important the guide is.

It’s much more important to have an expert guide if your goal is to summit Mount Everest than it is to summit our tallest peak in Minnesota, which is under 3,000 feet.

An experienced guide is more important if you want to kayak Lake Superior than to kayak a small local lake in your neighborhood.

A Reliable Trail Guide is even More Important in Life

The risk involved in knowing the difference between truth and falsehood in teachings about God, Jesus, salvation, the Bible—it’s immense. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of where you’ll spend eternity.

The Holy Spirit is our great Counselor—our Guide—in this. Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13)

He’ll guide you into truth through the word of God, the Bible. And He can guide you personally through an inner impression, through other people, through circumstances.

Trail map of Old Man's Cave hiking trail, Ohio State Parks system
Sometimes an accurate map is all you need to guide you on the trail

Invite Him today to show you if there’s anything you’ve been believing that isn’t part of the truth of His Word and character. He’s faithful to keep you from stumbling!

Read the book of Jude in the Bible (it’s just one chapter long) for more on the need for us to recognize false teaching and know the truth.

(The preceding content—minus the photos—is page 194 of the devotional book “Heaven and Nature Sing”)

Requirements of a Trustworthy Trail Guide

Personally, I haven’t been on too many treks—either land or water—that required a professional guide. I’ve relied mostly on maps and more experienced friends or family members.

But for certain situations, I wouldn’t go without a trained guide—like on big water in a kayak. Or in the Colorado mountains on horseback.

What are some of the requirements professional trail guides have that qualify them to lead people on outdoor expeditions?

Trained and/or Certified

This is vital! You don’t want a guide leading your kayak group across a span of ocean who just “feels” like kayaking that day. Who simply follows his emotions about routes or safety or timing or keeping the group together.

You want your guide to have been through rigid training and been certified by a governing board for the type of trip and activity he’s leading.

a group of kayakers relies on a guide through some sea caves
Big water—like Lake Superior—is a perfect setting for a professional guide (she’s the one in the single kayak in the cave)

Wants to be with People

You want a trail guide who enjoys being with people and is interested in the people she’s taking out. A few hours with a grouchy, reclusive trail guide and you’ll gladly never do it again!

But if she makes you feel welcome and is interested in the people in her group—you leave the trip feeling great about your experience.

Knows the Area and Even Some Trivia

The best guides are also interested in the areas where they guide trips.

The most interesting guided tours I’ve been on are with guides who clearly love both the terrain and the history of the area where they’re guiding.

They share personal stories, wilderness and nature trivia, and point out historically-significant landmarks.

Your Spiritual Guide(s) Through Life

Our first and most important Guide in life is Jesus Himself, through His Spirit, along with His word, the Bible.

When we’re saturated with His word, His thoughts, His presence—instead of being saturated with everything that’s part of our godless culture—it’s easy to spot the stumbling places. The cliff edges and mudslides. The rocks and tree roots.

Then, as Jude points out in his letter to the early Christians, pay attention to the lifestyles, words and attitudes of the people you allow to influence you. Be discerning about which voices you listen to.

Reject as guides those who are “ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into indecency, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ…murmurers and complainers, walking after their lusts—and their mouth speaks proud things—showing respect of persons to gain advantage.” (verses 4, 16)

Instead, “keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love…” (verses 20-21) And follow human guides who do the same. You’ll stay on the right trail.

a guide points out animal tracks in the snow along the snowshoe trail to a member of the group. Tall snow-covered pines in the background.
Our guide on this snowshoe trek points out animal tracks alongside the trail

Here’s more…

Sharon Brodin