The Path of Life (2)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Psalm 119:105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Now I have to tell you about one bad experience I had along this path. I had something with me which I had counted on to give me help as I hiked this trail. I wore my nice, new Wolverine work boots. I depended on them to support and comfort my feet. However, my boots were not helpful to me that day. You see, I was not wearing two pairs of socks and the one pair I had on were rather thin. As I walked down the trail for the return trip, my toes, not having enough of a cushion, were slamming into the front of my boots. After a while, it was annoying and uncomfortable. I even wondered if I were bruising my toenails. There was even a time when I considered taking them off and hiking barefoot. I decided it would be worse to be without them, so I kept them on.
We all have something on which we depend to help, support and comfort us along our paths. In fact, you have about 250 of them right here. They are our Christian friends. God provides us with friends so He can help, support and comfort us. God’s Spirit uses means. We all need godly friends. They will support us with godly advice and prayers. They will comfort us with God’s Word when we are sorrowful. Perhaps most important of all, they will warn us when they see us walking in sin.
Unfortunately, just as my boots did, there are times when we don’t support or comfort each other as we should. We face a world of enemies. The world does not love God or His Word. Just as they hated Christ, they will hate those who do what Christ said. They will tempt us to leave His way. Our enemies will appear to be friendly, as they try to do us spiritual harm. We must support each other by warning our fellow Christians about the dangers of sin. Just as the mountains do not care about what happens to hikers, the world does not truly care about our spiritual well being.
We must also deal with our own weak flesh. Because we are sinful, we often think only of ourselves instead of others. We can be too concerned about our standing among our peers. If we know of someone who is less popular, instead of comforting them and letting them know they are welcome, we sometimes make them feel bad so we can be accepted by others. We all need to know that as we go through life we are not alone, but have Christians for friends with whom we can share the joys and fellowship of salvation.
When hiking in the mountains it is a good idea to bring a map and a compass. A map can help determine distances so you know if you have enough time to finish your hike. A map also helps when someone in the group asks about the name of a mountain or lake. The compass is not just for telling you which way is north. The compass can prevent you from becoming lost. A map and compass also help if you would like to hike a circuit instead of a simple out and back trail.
God has given us a map and compass for Christian living. He does not put us on this earth and tell us to make our own way or determine for ourselves what is right and wrong. The light God gives us is the light of His Word. Although all things are planned by God, He made us with the ability to think and make decisions. All of us have to make decisions in life. Some decisions are harder than others. We do not have to blindly guess about what to do. With God’s Word as our light, we will be able to recognize the difference between the path of sin and the path which pleases God.
If a hiker becomes lost and stubbornly refuses to use his map and compass, we would think he is foolish. If he insists on trying to find his own way back, we would doubt if he would ever return safely. What would you think of a hiker who is in a misty fog and needs to know which way is north, then just guesses instead of taking out the compass which is right there in his pocket?
Having spiritual wisdom so we can recognize sin is not something which happens to us automatically. Just praying for God to give us wisdom does not help. The wisdom of God is found in the Bible. In order to be wise so we can avoid sin, we must read the Bible. To pray for wisdom, then not make the time to read God’s Word, is foolish. I doubt that any one of us would have a hard time finding a Bible which we could read. It is much more likely that we could choose from several we have in the house. Our Bibles should not be for decorating tables and night stands. We must read them. I remember a classmate trying to explain to our pastor why his catechism work wasn’t finished. He claimed his brother had taken the Bible to do his work and didn’t return the Bible to its proper place so he couldn’t find it. The minister simply replied that my classmate should have used the Bible he read every night in bed just before going to sleep. The minister made his point.
We have a pathway to walk in life. The path is not always smooth and easy. It will involve difficulties and sorrows. That is the Christian life. However, we should not become so involved with the next step on the path that we forget the beautiful end God has in store for His people. We have to take the time to remember the wonderful promises God gives to us in our crucified and risen Saviour. We need wisdom to walk this path. God has promised to give us the light of His Word to guide us along the way.