Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Switchbacks and Changes in Direction

A map of switchbacks on the AT
In hiking, there are often sudden changes in direction.  Sometimes these are planned to minimize the steepness of the ascent of a mountain.  This particular type of change is called a "switchback."  It involves going in one direction horizontally for a while, going up vertically a bit, then going in the opposite direction for a bit.  This is repeated once, twice, or multiple times depending upon the steepness of the mountain.  I dislike switchbacks, but I understand their importance.  They require a multitude of footfalls yet provide little changes in scenery.  I know however, I would greatly prefer them to climbing straight up the mountain. 

Sometimes obscure turns or route changes are necessary just because of the topography of the mountain.  Usually these are well marked to inform hikers a change is coming and to be on the look out for the right direction.

 There have been many moments in my life that represented a sudden "change in direction."

The first and most important happened when I became a Christian.  Up to that point I was an angry, defiant teenager.  I didn't like the constraints placed upon me by my Christian parents, my church, my school...well, by anyone.   Rules were chains in my eyes.  My sister used to call me a "non-conformist" and she was right.

Then on August 18, 1973 I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ not as a historical figure, or a figure from Bible stories, but as my Lord and Savior.  My life, indeed my self, took a dramatic change in direction.  I found I was a "new creature" indeed.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

I found I had a new heart and a new love for people.  It was the most important day in my life.

A couple years later I experienced a dramatic switchback.  It was less than two weeks before I was to leave for Auburn, Alabama to attend college there.  I suddenly decided I didn't want to go to Auburn and decided to stay home and go to college.  But instead of studying the same thing I wanted to pursue at Auburn, I decided to go into nursing.

Now, not only I had never wanted to be a nurse, I had never thought of being a nurse.  As a six-grader, growing up in the space-race age, I wanted to be an astronaut. Later as a young teen I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, then later a journalist, but never, not for one second, a nurse.  Where did that come from?

My problem however, was that I had not taken Chemistry in high school and I would need it to enter the nursing program.  So I had to take my first Chemistry class in college. That class is another story in and of itself.

I passed the course and started the nursing program the next year.  It was one of the best decisions I could have made for my life.  Being a nurse has been a rewarding career.  I have helped literally thousands of women have their babies.  It has also given me the freedom to join my husband in the services he conducts throughout the week.  

Another change in direction occurred because of my mother's job.  She was going to become the Director of a church Day Care where she worked as a teacher.  This would mean we would have to join that church.  Little was I to know that my future husband had joined the church only weeks before me.  We met there and within six months we were in love.  Within two years, we were married. 

Another change in direction occurred many years later when I resigned from the hospital where I had worked for fourteen years and went to work where I work now.  When I first stepped into my job at the new hospital, I felt as if I had come home. In the almost thirty years I have been there, I have met so many wonderful nurses and doctors.  So many of the nurses have become close friends whom I love and who love me in return.  It has been a joy to work side by side with them.

So what prompted all these switchbacks and direction changes?  They certainly didn't  generate out of my mind and thinking.  Another, wise and kind Person was influencing me in the direction He knew I should go.  The Lord knew I needed to be at that particular church to meet my future husband.  He knew nursing would not only be a career suited to my personality, but would also give me the freedom I would want to assist my husband.  He knew the hospital to which I was going would offer me friends as close as family.  He knew what I really needed, not what I thought I needed and He loved me enough to lead me in that way.


"And think ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, '
This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.' "  
Isaiah 30:21


  1. He Leadeth Me
  2. Joseph H. Gilmore

  3. He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
  4. O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
    Whate’er I do, where’er I be
    Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
    • Refrain:
      He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
      By His own hand He leadeth me;
      His faithful foll’wer I would be,
      For by His hand He leadeth me.
  5. Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
    Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
    By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
    Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
  6. Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
    Nor ever murmur nor repine;
    Content, whatever lot I see,
    Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
  7. And when my task on earth is done,
    When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
    E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
    Since God through Jordan leadeth me.




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