The Principle of the Path

  Everyone is on a path today. Individuals, families, communities, churches and countries are on paths that lead "somewhere."  Every path has a destination!  How are you going to get from where you are today, to where you want to be in the years ahead? To be where God wants you to be in the years ahead?  
 
  The writer of Proverbs states in 3:5-6,  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek HIS will in all you do, and HE will show you which PATH to take."  That's an eternal truth and was a part of the blessing I prayed over my son and daughter-in-law on their wedding day.  

  Several years ago, I read the book, The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley.  It's an excellent book that challenges us to think.  In years past and still occasionally today, I have to pause and think ... what path am I on and where will it lead me?  Our choices concerning paths impacts us in numerous ways and can be seen in individuals, families, communities and countries.  Some would compare it to sowing and reaping. We can’t plant corn and expect beans.  

  What path are you on today? Have you considered the destination of that path?  The good news is Jesus CHOSE you!  Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I CHOSE you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last..."  John 15:16  We can change our destination because He first chose us. As we choose to follow him, He has a destiny (destination) for each of us that include purpose and allows us to bear the spiritual fruit we desire: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

  Our choices not only impact us, but our FAMILY.  Moses said to Israel, "...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE life, so that you and your children may live." Deut. 30:19  Joshua said to the people of Israel, "But if serving the Lord  seems undesirable to you, then CHOOSE for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord ."  Joshua 24:15

   In a day that has many paths, remember CHOICE, not CHANCE, determines our destiny.  We can't change yesterday, but we can change our destination by the choices we make today.  How do we know which choices to make?  Seeking HIM and submitting to the truth He reveals to us.

Choice, Not Chance, Determines Our Destiny

   Will the path you're on today lead you to the spiritual destinations you desire?  Will the path you're on today lead you ultimately to the destination in which Jesus says,
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant?"  Will the path you’re on today lead you to blessings, or curses for your children and grandchildren?  Paths of life affect us in every area of life: relationships, health, finances, family and spiritual.

   Here's the major DISCONNECT in our day. We say we're headed toward a specific destination, but we're on a path that doesn't lead to that destination. There's no alignment between our "intentions" and our "direction."  I can say that I want to go East to Cape Girardeau, but I’m headed West toward Greenville.  That’s a disconnect. I certainly have some disconnects in my life, how about you?

  We can say we want a deep and lasting relationship with the Lord, yet "continually" skip quiet time in order to surf the internet, facebook, news, television, etc.   A couple can say they want a better marriage, yet do nothing to change the path they're on to lead them to that destination. We can say we want to get in better physical shape, yet our tennis shoes are in the closet with the price tag still on them.  We can say we want to overcome bitterness and find freedom through forgiveness, but continue to hold grudges against those who have offended or hurt us.  

  Whatever our disconnect is, we can change our destination by changing our PATH.  It begins with repentance.  It means a change of thinking; a change of direction.  We've all made our share of poor decisions.  Yes, forgiveness is available.  But without repentance, we continue to wander in the wilderness.

  Three things are needed to change our destinations.  DIRECTION, not intention determines our destination.  Many people are filled with good intentions, but intentions are useless unless converted into action. What’s the old adage, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Direction, Not Intention Determines Our Destination

  Second, we need TIME.  Have you ever been lost while trying to reach someone's house?  Even with new and proper direction, time is still needed to arrive at the desired destination.  There are no "quick fixes" in the major decisions of life.  Our conversion to Christ is not completion, just the beginning of a wonderful change. A man purchased a home in the middle of winter and noticed a specific tree separate from the cluster of other trees in his yard.  They all looked similar in winter. Then Spring came and this specific tree grew leaves and tiny pink buds.  How wonderful, he thought. A flower tree, I will enjoy the flowers of this tree. Within a month the wind blew the petals of the flowers throughout the yard. What a mess, this tree is useless. Near the end of Summer, he noticed the tree had green fruit about the size of a walnut. He picked one and took a bite out of it. Yuk – it was bitter, so he threw it to the ground. What a waste. The tree paid no attention to the man and continued to draw water and nutriments from the earth. Later, near the end of Fall, the green fruit had developed into delicious red apples. As you encounter disappointments on your journey with Christ … HANG in there.  Time is required for fruit to ripen.

   In addition to direction and time, we must choose to SUBMIT to God (truth).  The scripture I began with in Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 concludes with "Seek HIS will in all you do, and HE will show you which PATH to take."  There is a definite correspondence between submission to God and our ability to select the best paths before us.  It's not so much about our wisdom and abilities, as it is about submitting to HIM.  

   The good news, we can change.  God will help us as we commit ourselves to Him.

 Several years ago I read the story of Tim Burke, a successful major league pitcher with the Montreal Expos. He and his wife adopted five special-needs children over a period of years. His career required him to be gone from his family for lengthy periods of time. After eight successful seasons and still in his prime, he announced he was giving up his athletic career.  When asked why, he said "My family needs me. Baseball will do just fine without me, but I'm the only husband my wife has and the only father my children have." He went on to say, "I've fulfilled a dream and now I have a bigger dream – I want to be a major-league husband and father."

     May I encourage you today to take time to focus on your priorities, and then examine your choices to see if the path you're on will lead to the destination God desires for you?

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