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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stop - consider - choose

Two paths - two choices - a whole lot of things drawing us down one - only one thing drawing us down the other. Life is not always easy, nor are the paths we take totally "well-traveled" by others.  In fact, we may find ourselves on a path which is just not all that well-discovered, nor is it well-worn, yet I have found those paths often give us the greatest discoveries in life!  You hear all the time of people getting a "major" in one subject and a "minor" in another while they are completing their degrees in higher education. In essence, they are saying they have "two pathways" in life which they can fall back on if the need arises.  If the economy takes a turn this way or that, they might be a little more resilient in their job opportunities because of that dual educational path, but in life, it is rare that we can actually follow two paths and do justice to both!

There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it. (Matthew 7:13-14 VOICE)

I recently listened to two testimonies from women undergoing the decision to abort their unborn child when they were much younger and ultimately taking that step to "rid themselves" of the unwanted pregnancy.  One explained they were kind of a "party hearty" gal, given to using a little too much alcohol at those parties, and then "finding herself" pregnant after one of those nights of hard partying.  The other simply told of the story of having thought she was loved by someone, but then discovering the individual had no real commitment to her, leaving her with the choice to be a single, unwed mother or abort the child.  In retrospect, both women told of their regret at having made that decision years and years earlier (one was 63 at the time she shared her testimony of a decision she made 43 years earlier).  To this day, they live with regret - shame - and even a little bit of inability to fully trust God to forgive them for their decision.

Two paths presented themselves to these women - only two choices seemed possible.  One involved years and years of dedication to a child's needs above their own; while the other involved a momentary decision that would supposedly "free" them from that long, labor-intensive, life-limiting journey. What they never counted on was the intensity of their grief over having made the "wrong decision" to end the life of their child.  They also didn't count on the shame they carried into their next 30-40 years of life.  Something I heard in their stories - the paths are not always "clearly marked" with truthful "way-faring" signs, my friends!  Sometimes the signs point one direction, promising something much different than what we encounter at the end of that path!

They never counted on the guilt or shame - they trusted in what others told them would "fix" the "problem".  One thing I have learned in my own "pathway decisions" in life is this idea of being certain where or in whom we are placing our trust.  Trust is "based" in or upon something or someone. If it is placed wrongly - just casually observing the "way-faring signs" along the way and placing your trust in them to get you to the best destination, you might find this is not ever the best plan.  I have a little acronym for trust:  Totally Resting Upon Someone Trustworthy.  In life, we "rest upon" a lot of things and people, but not all of these are trustworthy.  They haven't been tried and found to be reliable - but I have found God's word and his promises to be reliable - for they have stood the test of time!

Whenever I go into a forested area, I observe for the well-worn paths.  I may see some smaller pathways into the forested area, but I also see these well-worn paths.  Why do I choose the well-worn in these situations?  It is usually because someone has prepared that pathway for my future travel!  It is well-worn because it leads to the promised destination - such as the water along the path or the observation point which provides a majestic view of the land all around.  The smaller paths may be just as beautiful, but they don't always lead to as trustworthy or purposeful destinations.  In life, there are not always "well-worn" paths, though.  Sometimes we are faced with one "boulevard" of a path, streaming with others taking the same path, leading to a specific destination we know we need to travel - while others we are faced with are a slightly less worn path, narrow and not as easily traversed. The latter may look a little ominous before us, but I have often found it is the one leading to the most pristine of valleys and still places of God's rest.  

We must guard against just accepting the one traveled by all. It may be a good path - I am not saying it isn't.  It may also have some "okay" reward at the end, but it may also mean we miss the most coveted and tenderly prepared place of God's rest, majesty, and strength we could ever encounter in life! Just sayin!