Each year, for my birthday, the new tradition in the family is to travel to Birmingham and go to Oak Mountain State Part. It is located between where Christopher and Stephanie live, it is east to find and there are lots of things to do. We usually cook out, visit the raptor center and just hang out, celebrating my birthday, Elise's birthday and life. It is a good getaway and I enjoy the family time.
One thing we could do at the park is go hiking on a trail. There are literally hundreds of possibilities, with varying degrees of difficulty. As I was looking at a trail map one day I reflected on where we are in society. We are at a place that has hundreds of possibilities. God's Word addresses this and in Matthew 7 Jesus says "wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction (7:13)." Paul says (1 Cor. 10:23) "I am allowed to do everything but not everything is beneficial." The person and path of God is focused ... not broad!
God's way isn't being able to do and choose anything, even though we can. God's path, plan and purpose seems to say ... "focus!" When I walk the trail at a State park I need to do three things. The first thing is to focus on the trail markers. They are usually colored and can be seen along the trail. When I am on the yellow trail, I follow the yellow markings and know that these will lead me to my destination. When I am following God, I must concentrate on the markers. For me they can be truth-speaking people, folks who I know have my best interest at heart, readings from trusted sources, sermons/messages and events that teach me.
The second thing I need to focus on is the next step, the terrain and the trail itself. I have always had a pension for spraining my ankle. When I am hiking I need to be conscious of rocks, roots, rough places and all of the places I place my feet. In God's word we find David's teaching ... "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Ps. 119:105)." The image here is David walking along and relying on God to illuminate the next step. Yes, glance forward at the trail marker, but remember to watch the steps you take getting there.
Finally, we must keep our destination in our minds. When I am traveling in my kayak, I look out at the water right in front of the kayak to make sure I won't have any immediate issues (next step). I look a little further out to see that I am not losing track of the trail (trail markers). But I look way out on the horizon at the destination. We, as God's people, have a destination. We can get confused about this. Some think it is the land over yonder, MY salvation and MY ticket to heaven. Jesus said if we seek to save our life we will lose it. Our destination is all about God's plan and God's place ... not us. Maybe in Matthew Jesus is talking about something more difficult, more challenging and more fleeting than our cliche's about heaven. There are four Gospels. They are all journeys. They all end in struggle and sacrifice. And the journey is so that others (not self) will be saved. But in becoming the conduit of God's grace and love for all people, Jesus (according to multiple scriptures) is lifted to God's right hand, given all authority over heaven and earth and is the only one worthy to open to scrolls that bring all of our journeys to an end.
In a world where we are told to follow our heart, be directed by our feelings and be led by "the flavor of the month" Jesus says ... "wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction" but "straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life." It seems to be really good advice to me! Randy