Psalm 119:101 – “‘I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.”
–THE FOLLOWING STORY IS A MODERN DAY PARABLE. IT NEVER REALLY HAPPENED.–
It was quite a hike.
Bobby had been hiking these mountain trails all his life. Hiking next to him gave me the confidence that whatever came our way, we’d be prepared for it. As we walked we swapped stories about our lives. Most of my stories involved my suburban life. I don’t think Bobby was really all that interested in my ramblings about cul-de-sacs and SUV’s (that never really went off road), but he humored me. When Bobby spoke I was enthralled. He grew up in the mountains. My biggest fears growing up were that I would get stuck on the wrong side of the tracks. Bobby talked about having to escape from mountain lions and bears. He warned me about the dangers of the wild. He also taught me to respect the land. And, when he said it, it carried a bit more authority than my eighth grade science teacher’s words from years ago.
As we hiked further Bobby’s talk changed. He began to talk about the deepest things in life. He began to talk about God. It took me by surprise that this mountain man was an amateur theologian. He would talk about God’s love and God’s plans. He talked about the paradoxical relationship between God’s grace and His furious wrath. He also talked about anthropology. He called it the doctrine of man. And, he said that all men were created in the image of God. He said that all men have sinned and our sin has separated us from God.
It was then that we happened upon it. It was a path, and it looked gorgeous. The tree lined path was awash in colors of fall. I started to run towards it. It was as if I was being pulled toward the path.
“Wait!” shouted Bobby. “That path looks great, but it is dangerous. It starts as a wide, beautiful path, but if you take it too far, you will never come back. Stay away!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Mountain man was afraid of a mountain path. I thought he could handle anything.
It was then that he told me about the group of experienced hikers, who years ago took the path and never came back. The path led to treacherous terrain, that even the best hikers couldn’t pass. The tricky thing was that it looked so easy. As soon as one believed that it was, the path swallowed them up.
Bobby told me, “That’s the way it is with life. There are lots of paths that look harmless, but they ignore God. And, the people who walk those paths are led to eternal destruction. ‘Ole King David once said, ‘I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.’ We need to take a page out of David’s book.”
That night we came upon a narrow pass. I didn’t want to venture out on the path. It looked like it would be a tough hike. “Are you sure about this?” I asked Bobby.
“Oh yeah,” Bobby said. “I’m sure.”
Who was I to question the mountain man? So, I followed. It was the toughest three hours of my life. There were many times that I was afraid I was going to slip right off of that mountain. But, it was also a series of great lessons. And, when we got to the clearing, I was in awe. There I was, looking at the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen.
“This isn’t heaven,” Bobby said. “But, I think it’s as close as you can get this side of glory.”
“It sure was tought to get here,” I said.
“Yeah, it was,” said Bobby. “But that’s the way it is with God. Walking with Him is not always easy. In fact, I think walking with Him is the toughest thing in the world. But, it’s worth it.”
“Yes, it is, Bobby. Yes, it is.”
Sometimes walking with You looks so tough. Help us to remember that anything worth something costs something. And, help us to remember that our cost is nothing compared to Yours. Thank You for showing us the way. Thank You for being our Guide.
In Jesus’ name,