Oh yes, I remembered, we were not in the mountains after all; we were in Florida. Yet it would have been easy to have fooled a person who had slept through the trip over rivers with names like Suwannee and Ocklockonee, traveling deep into the piney woods of the Big Bend, down to the swamplands. If they had wakened in the campground on the ridge overlooking the river valley below, and walked the first mile of the path, they would have thought they were on the Appalachian Trail somewhere.
But the sight of those huge cypresses, the bottoms of their trunks billowing like the folds of a skirt in the water, their knees standing two and three feet high around them, would have given pause. Suddenly they would realize the shrubbery beneath the trees in the woods wasn’t rhododendron and mountain aster, but palmetto and needle palms. The ground wasn’t hardwood leaf mold over rock, but pine straw matting over red or yellow clay and sand. This is Florida—perhaps different from most other places in the state, but Florida nevertheless.
Where are you spiritually? Are you where you think you are? Or did you sleep through the first half of your life, and when your spirituality awakened, look around and at first glance think, “Yes, this is the right place,” when it was only a close facsimile? Did you find yourself among people who seemed to be doing the right thing and so fail to take a really close look at your surroundings?
Why are you where you are? Is it just because this is where Mom and Dad put you, or because you checked the map and stayed awake for the trip, knowing why you made which turns, and not only how to tell others to get here, but why they should be here with you?
If you are in the mountains of Appalachia, you will need to look out for a few rattlesnakes and copperheads, but those are shy reptiles that will usually run if given the opportunity. In a Florida swamp you will also need to watch out for cottonmouths and alligators. Cottonmouths are notoriously aggressive—they will charge from cover, and then chase you. And alligators move faster than anything that ungainly has a right to. If you are wary of the wrong dangers, you are much more likely to be taken unawares.
God expects you to know where you are spiritually and why you are there. He doesn’t want people who are where they are simply out of convenience and family tradition. Where is the service in that?
He expects you to look out for the dangers that might surround you. How can you be alert if the dangers you expect are not the ones in that area?
And how will you ever find God if you are not where you thought you were?
From there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul, Deut 4:29.