Trials or Trails

Recently, I took a little road trip with my mom. We were coasting through beautiful mountains and admiring the views of endless hills and valleys overshadowed by puffy clouds. One morning, she was driving and I was reading when God dropped a thought in my mind.


{That’s what it sounds like when the Holy Spirit drops an idea in your brain. Just kidding. It’s actually more like…}


{Also, kind of kidding. But not completely.}


Anyway, so the thought was this: there is only one difference between a trial and a trail. The difference is where you put the “i”.

Wow. I know, right?! I wish I had thought of it first. But no, the Holy Spirit was all like, “Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh, Lauren?”

And I was left sitting there with my teeth ajar in shock.

See, a trial seems really harsh and difficult and too much like a test that I might fail. Trials always seem to go with the word “tribulation” (or maybe I just read the Left Behind series too much as an impressionable teen). Trials are gritty and stressful and something that must be overcome.

Trails, on the other hand, are paths. They might be a path that meanders through a forest, past a waterfall, or down a Target aisle. Trails are the walkway to a destiny. Trails always have something good at the end and sometimes even have some cool snacks with peanuts and M&M’s.

Now I promise this is not a reading test, but the difference between these words is only one letter. The “i”.


When we place the “i” in front of the “all”, we end up with a trial. This is so true in life, especially in spiritual matters. If we make ourselves the focus of everything and put our needs in front of others, we end up making our lives a lot more challenging. Life becomes a struggle of fighting with everyone else’s selfishness just to get our way. God telling us to lay down what we want for His will becomes a test of selflessness (that I often fail). Problems arise when we put ourself first, and our whole life becomes a tr-i-al.

However. There is an alternative.

When we place the “i” in the middle of it “all”, we end up with a trail. This trail takes us on a journey. The trail may weave up and down mountains, go around wide oaks, or be interwoven with tree roots; but it is still just a trail to walk down. It is a path that God has given us. We still may sweat while we walk, but when we permanently lay down ourself, we walk into the God-ordained path that He has designed for us. There may be hard work to do along the way to keep our selfishness out of the picture, but our life becomes just staying on God’s tra-i-l.

So the question we are left with is this: where do “I” fall in the picture? Do I put myself first and make my whole life a trial? Or do I lay aside my selfishness and follow God down His trail?

The choice is obviously up to you, but I can promise that one of them is easier in the long run. As Robert Frost once penned,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”



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