Are You Following The Right Path?
Many years ago, I remember being a camp counselor for a junior high camp. The best thing about this camp was that there were several of us who were young pastors fresh out of seminary and in our first or nearly first appointment. At night, after the kids went to bed we would gather in the kitchen and talk about the things we didn’t learn in seminary and compare the struggles we were having as new pastors. During the day we would let the campers in on the pranks we pulled with each other. One of the counselors once decided to take a 5-gallon bucket of lake water and pour it over the head of an unsuspecting counselor. The kids hooted and screamed with laughter at the drenched counselor and the perpetrator who was in full denial of having done such a thing.
One night some of the counselors decided that they would take the kids on a night hike. With only a few flashlights to light the paths, they set off. Another of the counselors and I decided to hang back. Within minutes, however, we were enticed by the group’s laughter coming across the lake. Thinking ourselves very clever, we decided not just to catch up with them, but to get ahead of them and scare them on their path on the backside of the lake. To our surprise, however, they didn’t make the turn that would lead them to the back side of the lake where we laid in wait. They turned instead and started up the hill to the back of the camp property. Still determined to join in the fun, we started after them. We had no flashlights and neither of us was familiar with this new hilly path. It wasn’t long until we were in total darkness. My partner was from the city and fearful of what we were doing and where we were going. I, on the other hand, a country girl with good young eyesight at the time, decided that if I asked the Lord to help, we would be just fine in the darkness. I soon realized that I could feel the path beneath me. I could tell when we left the path, by how the ground changed under my feet.
With some hesitation on my partner’s part we continued to move carefully forward. My goal was still to catch up with the group and I had to be keenly aware of the path beneath us. My partner was just focused on getting back to the cabin safely while breathing through the panic attacks he was having. Moving slowly and methodically along the smooth path I began to think of Psalm 119: 105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Following the Lord is often challenging. In the rush of living in our Western culture, we forget to slow down and pay attention to the path He has set us on. Placing a high priority on the scripture, God’s word, and learning to live by it is a lot like paying attention to the ground beneath us. The longer we spend time in the Word, the more it transforms us, sinking deep into our spirit. And the deeper it sinks into our spirit, the more it transforms how we see the world and live with our God. When we soak in the scriptures or mediate on His Word, we become keenly aware and more able to identify when we are on the smoother path of living life as God wants. Conversely, by soaking in the scriptures we also become aware when we leave the smooth path and go off on our own willful way — eventually leading to destruction and sometimes even death.
Are you so soaked, so drenched in the scriptures that you know the instant that you leave the path that God has laid before you? There have been times when I’ve left the path, but I soon recognize the going was much easier when I was on the smooth path. So back to the Word I go, because I need that light on my path.