Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stay on the Path

Nearly everyday on my evening cardio walks in my neighborhood I encounter this cute older couple. We smile, wave, and I mouth hello because I am wearing headphones, I'm not sure what their saying to me. One day as we meet, I am prepared for the regular routine...a smile, a wave, and a semi- silent hello. But something is different this time. This time they are trying to get my attention. This time they are trying to stop me.

I pull my earpiece out of my ear and they frantically in unison ask me.."which way are you going?" As I stand there with a puzzled look on my face they say in unison again "stay on the path", as if they had discussed and planned what they would say to the next passerby. Now I can imagine them warning everyone they encountered in this way. The man says "we just saw two copperheads but you will be alright if you stay on the path". Snakes on the walking trail, huh? I must admit that I was a little frightened to continue my walk, but I believed that the couple wouldn't steer me wrong and I would be alright if I listened and stayed on the path. I SURE hope you already know where I'm going with this! Can We Talk?!

When we stay on the path God set before us EVERYTHING is going to work out for our good. Everything won't be roses and sunshine, I would be leading you astray if I told you that you won't have trouble on the path. What I will tell you is this: When trouble comes God is our ever present help (Psalm 46:1). He promises never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). What is on the path is much more satisfying than going off road. You will be tempted to leave the path, don't!! Protection and provision are on the path. Wisdom and instruction are on the path.

After Jesus' death and resurrection He instructed the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples decided to stray from that path. They went fishing in Galilee. When Jesus called some of the disciples, they were indeed fishermen. The disciples decided to go back to what they were comfortable doing prior to meeting Jesus, back to the familiar. Remember Jesus tells these disciples that He would make them fishers of men, not fisherman. Fishing was a skill they already possessed.

God is trying to do a new thing in us, but we have to decide to stay on the path set before us to receive the new. What path has God set before you? Finishing a degree, getting your health back through diet and exercise, starting a ministry or a business, living a righteous life, or living a single celibate pure life that honors Him. Stay on the path. It won't always be easy, it won't always feel good or right. Obedience to God has a way of causing the flesh to rise up in revolt. But Jesus is present on the path to lead, guide, protect, dry tears, and comfort hearts. He will strengthen and empower you in times of darkness, silence, and uncertainty.

As we continue this faith walk to healthy living we have to stay on the path. Many of us did not grow up with fruits and vegetables as our main source of nutrition. We didn't learn calorie tracking and portion control. And regular exercise, forget about it! On this journey there will be times you want to quit, going back to the familiar. You will want to eat something that intellectually you know is not good for you. You'll want to smoke one last cigarette, drink another soda, or ditch that exercise class. Stay on the path. There are many more pitfalls off road than on the path.

The disciples got off course but once they encountered Jesus they quickly got back on track. They knew that returning to their old lifestyles was not the newness that Jesus had called them to as followers. Fishing may have helped them make a living and filled their bellies, but fishing was not going to further the Kingdom of God and this was their assignment.

After walking several hundred yards past my neighbors I completely forget about the snakes that were off the path. I was on the path focused on what was available to me there and I knew I was safe. Are you off course? What do you need to get back on the path God has set before you? How can your path and your testimony be used to advance the Kingdom?

Your body is the temple of the Living God! Live Well in His Name!
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