Well Worn Path

A friend of mine had to give up something he valued his whole life this week. I’ve known him for a long time. I’ve known him to be a compassionate leader and fiery advocate for social justice issues. He is a leader. He is a great dad. He is a superior trainer in my book. I learned so much from him—too much to include here. I borrowed his hat once. That’s the kind of guy he is. I later returned his hat because that’s the kind of gal I am.

I suspect he wandered off the path. Something tempted him. It must have caught his attention more than once. That happens to everyone—we glance sideways and all of the sudden we notice something or someone. That’s all it takes really. One moment too long, one arrogant thought, one lapse of judgment, one step off the well-worn path and we can get lost. To think that won’t happen to me is ridiculous and I would even call it sinful. We all fall short. We all are in need of a Savior. I remind myself of that daily.  I, too, am interested in what’s out there…just off the well worn path.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6a)

1. Way, like the well worn path trodden by so many it’s clearly distinguished and easily discernible. 

2. Truth, like the bright shining sun after a long dark night.

3. Life, like the first breath following a cardiac arrest.

So, what is our response to those who wandered off the well worn path? How then shall we live? The Apostle Paul made a powerful remark to the Philippians because they asked the same question, even before Francis Schaeffer did in 1976. Paul stated, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 NIV) Dying in the Christian life and practice is a daily occurrence. We must die to the right things. I’ve included a prayer below to help discern what I mean by ‘right things.’

I’m constantly perplexed by this notion that when someone does something morally wrong, blatantly sinful or even inadvertently wanders off the well worn path we shame them. It’s like we shine the gigantic spotlight on someone as if we have done something noble. Jesus doesn’t shine a light on my failure. He shines a light to show me the path back onto the way. Imagine what it would be like if we all had flashlights we could use to help others find their path back to the Way.

Sunday is Confirmation Sunday at both campuses. Extended families will be visiting. The Scullen Middle School Choir will open our 8:30 service with some amazing sacred music you may not want to miss. I am excited about what God is doing in us as a community. Go find your flashlight. I already have one. I hope to see you Sunday.

The following prayer is from Prayers for Today: A Yearlong Journey of Devotional Prayer by Kurt Bjorklund. Moody Publishers, Chicago. 2011.

Father—the truth about me is that I often choose sin:

Sometimes I choose hatred. Sometimes I choose slander.

Sometimes I choose envy. Sometimes I choose greed.

Sometimes I choose pettiness. Sometimes I choose lust.

Sometimes I choose gossip. Sometimes I choose pride.

Sometimes I choose self-reliance.

Sometimes I choose self-righteousness.

Sometimes I choose self-aggrandizement.

Sometimes I choose unkind words.

Sometimes I choose to ignore the obvious needs around me.

Sometimes I choose to hoard my resources.

Sometimes I choose to neglect Your command to share the gospel.

The list of things I wrongly choose could go on and on. And sometimes I act on these things in ways that are darker than I even care to state. Each time I make such a choice, I choose death. (Romans 6:23) Today, I ask that You breathe life into my soul afresh,

And enable me to choose life—to choose You and Your ways. Amen.

“I, even I, am the one who blots out your transgressions—for my own sake. And I will remember your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25

Pastor Jen