In the woods behind the house I grew up in, several paths led in different directions, beaten grassless by the feet of many children in our neighbourhood. One path led down to a swampy area. If we were in the mood for picking flowers or collecting frogs, that’s the path we took. Another path led to a baseball diamond. One of my favorite paths led to a gravel road. On the other side of that road, down through a ditch, another path wound through a pine tree forest, to a clearing that we children had turned into an outdoor play area, complete with table and chairs. An imaginary family lived there, made up of children who might play the role of Dad one day, and little brother, the next.
The godly faithful who’ve gone before us have left a well-worn path. We must be careful to stay on that path.
Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried and true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
Jeremiah wrote these words for the nation of Israel. The nation was on the wrong road, headed for destruction. They didn’t need God any more, didn’t need to live His way. “I’ll live my own way and nothing bad will happen to me,” – that’s what they thought. They’d become sophisticated and self-reliant. They began experimenting with other gods, on a quest for truth. Deluded by their own self-centeredness, they didn’t realize they’d been on the path of truth and wandered from it.
Present day followers of Christ are susceptible to this same delusion. We must be careful to follow the godly path that has been worn through the wilderness by the faithful who have gone before us. New paths promise enlightenment, freedom, success, fame and power. The end of these paths is destruction, pain and disappointment.
There is one way to follow God. It’s the path of submission to Jesus Christ. The further we travel on this path the more of our lives we submit to Him. The further we go, the clearer we see that our tendency to live independent of God will destroy us in the end. Israel refused God’s path, chose their own – and paid for that foolish decision.
“I can do it myself. I don’t need God.” That refrain has been sung by many rebellious souls who insist on clearing their own paths to God. Success deludes. It tempts a person to believe they’re indestructible, to believe they can add God, like icing on a cake, to a sinful lifestyle. God loves the backslider, it’s true. But He’ll never be an add-on for anybody.
We must follow the path set before us, the one called Obedience to God. The feet of people who read the Bible, pray, attend church, love and live honestly have tramped down this path and made it easier for us to find and follow.
The wise follow God’s well-worn path.
Rose McCormick Brandon’s books are available at her website, Writing from the Heart.