"If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all." (David Livingstone, medical missionary to Africa) I wonder how we might approach life a little differently if we were to consider a few less traveled roads instead of the super-highways of life? The roads we choose in life are not always well-marked, completely paved, or even well-charted ahead of time. Sometimes we just set out in faith, knowing the direction we are headed, but not so clear what will come along the way. As I explore new regions of our country, someone has usually gone before me to discover those paths I travel, but I have not been those ways before. Those roads are all new to me and each turn brings a discovery fresh and totally new to me. I have been the one blazing the trail on occasion, but there are some trails I take because I trust those who have gone before me to prepare those trails!
You have searched me—my heart and soul—awakened me from dreaming and tested me. You’ve found nothing against me. I have resolved not to sin in what I say. The path violent men have followed, I will not travel. Violence is not my way. Your ways and Your voice now guide my journey. I will press on—moving steadfastly forward along Your path. I will not look back. I will not stumble. (Psalm 17:3-5 VOICE)
The path we choose NOT to travel matters just as much as those we do choose to travel! When we don't go the way everyone seems to be heading, we may make the wisest choice of all. As moms everywhere have asked their children for eons, "Just because your friend jumps off a bridge, does that mean you will, too?", they were just asking the ageless question about our willingness to choose to NOT travel a road just because it was highly traveled by others. They were simply advising us to make right choices, based on common sense and truth we have seen modeled in the lives of those who are good examples for us.
We make judgments about the path at basically three times: 1) before we begin to travel it; 2) after we have been on it a little while and experienced what it has begun to reveal; and 3) when we have finished the journey and are looking back at what has been our course. The first looks at the journey from the perspective of what will be. The second looks at the journey from what is being revealed. The last looks at it from what has been and what is now the new place we occupy as a result of the journey. Depending upon our "place on the path", we see it differently. One vantage point sees it as daunting and maybe a little scary. The other says it isn't all that bad, or worth the exploration. What we often fail to recognize is the point of "reckoning" with our will to either take the path a little further, or turn around when it gets a little too hard to continue. We sometimes turn off "right paths" because the way gets a little too hard for us.
There are basically "right" or "wrong" choices in life. Some are clearly plain to us - like not jumping from a bridge just because everyone else is! Others are not so "clear" - like which stock will perform at the pace we need to realize in order for our investments to "pay off" as we need them to for our retirement. Yes, there are a whole lot of grey areas in life, paths not so easily recognizable as "right" or "wrong", but I think we can make the "best" choices when we rely upon the truth of the Word, the internal "check" of the Spirit within, and the niggling of our conscience along the way. Yes, God looks for those who have a pioneering spirit and a willingness to go where perhaps others haven't gone before, but he also looks for those who are willing to evaluate their course in light of the truth he gives, not just take the path others so freely travel. Just sayin!