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Why didn't I see that?

Stop for just a moment to consider a well-worn path - one that has become hardened because of the frequency of the passage over that path. As I hike in national and state parks, I look for the well-worn paths because I know someone has gone down that path enough to have 'carved out' that path. The only problem with always traveling the well-worn path is that sometimes it isn't going to lead you exactly where you'd like to end up. I know that there are hardened paths, well-worn ones, that are the result of sinful choices in my life. These are the ones I'd really not like to continue to travel!

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. (Psalm 23:1-3)

Why does a path become 'well-worn'? Isn't it because it has been traversed so many times that it is impossible to conceal the existence of the path any longer? Sin is like that - it becomes  harder and harder to conceal that it is there! The path isn't always easy to recognize when it is traveled only once or twice, but when it is traveled with repeated frequency, it becomes well-worn (hardened). This is why they say that sin 'hardens our hearts'. It makes it harder for us to choose the fresh path. The wear and tear sin takes becomes evident in our mind, will, and emotions - evident in our heart choices.

When we have taken a certain path to work for so long and then it is somehow disrupted, is that easy for us to remember not to go down that roadway during construction? We will make the mistake of taking that well-known route - the one we don't even need to think about at all - just because it is thing we do my what is called 'muscle-memory' now. It does not take conscious thought any longer to take that path - it requires significant conscious thought to NOT take that path! Construction crews put out those big orange signs and lighted portable warnings because they know we are creatures of habit!

Those signs are advice to avoid the path, but how often do we not even see them? They blend in even though they are orange, flashing, and out in your way! Muscle memory - action without conscious thought almost makes us oblivious to the warnings to drive another way. If this is true in our journey to work via that roadway, how can it not be true of our choices to avoid a particular pathway of sinful action in our lives? A long time ago, construction sites used to be manned by crews of men and women who would hold signs and direct traffic. Was that more effective? Usually - because we have trained our minds to 'see' human beings in the roadway! That 'sight' caused us to stop and consider our actions to take that route!

God isn't going to remove the path we frequent so easily, but he will put up warnings and detour signs. He might even send us a few 'human beings' in our path that will alert us to not take that path today. We won't know what to do at first, but when we are open to having our muscle-memory changed, we can find a new path that is going to get us to the right end, but with less headache along the way! Just sayin!

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