by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

I just returned from a lovely autumn walk in Texas. Living on a cattle ranch provides a variety of trails for taking a walk. It turns out my stroll today involved passing the pasture where our cows were grazing. I was amused that as I passed by, they immediately stopped what they were doing and began following me. And as I reached the north end of our property and turned around for my return trip, the cows did the same.

Remember the childhood game appropriately titled, “Follow the leader?” I suspect many of you are familiar with the rules of this game — pretty simple really. The child in front is the leader, and all the other children follow and do whatever the leader does. I recall thinking it was as much fun to follow as it was to lead. But I never imagined myself playing leader to a herd of cows!

Actually, I think my days are more often spent in the following mode. Perhaps this is true for many of us.

There are goals to go after, dreams to pursue, advice to adhere to, rules to obey, directions to understand, guidance to accept, role models to imitate — the list is endless. And once upon a time three wise men would have said, “There is a star to follow.”

We follow because following brings the promise of success, accomplishment, satisfaction, and understanding — the finding of whatever we are searching for.

Like the wise men of old, we don’t always know exactly what to expect when we get to the end of our search. Yet all along our journey, high hopes and great expectations encourage us to keep going. And after reaching our goal, we conclude that our persistence, faith and effort were worth it.

This type of following is very different from the herd mentality that aimlessly follows without any thought, question or purpose. Indeed, following your spiritual intuition, your highest sense of what is right, and your lofty goals, will likely require courage, confidence, diligence and patience.

I’m sure some would have thought the three wise men were crazy to set out on such a long journey following a star. Perhaps they were confronted by people voicing their doubts. Maybe the route they had to take was difficult and challenging. I wonder if they were ever tempted to turn back, concluding the path was too tough.

No, I think the wise men never lost their confidence or focus and didn’t allow anything or anyone to distract them, diminish their hopes or lead them off course. What enabled them to be certain about the direction they were going? What guided their quest?

The wise men never lost sight of their purpose — finding a messiah. And so they found what they were looking for.

They listened to the spiritual guidance they received from God. Clearly, they had a deep faith and trust in this guidance. Yet sometimes following this instruction can mean a change in direction.

The Bible speaks of the wise men listening to God in a dream that warned them not to return to Herod, so they headed back to their country by going a different way. (Matthew 2:12)

And we must do the same as we move along the course of our life journey — keeping our high goal always before us lighting our way. And yet remaining flexible and teachable, open to new ideas and possibilities — ever listening for God’s wisdom and guidance.

We each have a star to follow — a timeless, God-given purpose. It’s never too late or too hard to fulfill one’s mission. The fact is our purpose is not some far away dream. We have a purpose each day and in each moment of our lives. Seize the potential of each moment and day, my friends. Let your spiritual intuition guide you. And you will find your path remains bright as you walk toward all of your life goals.