Are You Following the Right Path?
My friend Scott recently suffered a skiing accident. While he was on a slope, he decided to follow a side path that cut through the woods. He had never followed this path before and didn't know that it led to a jump. He gained a lot of speed along the way. Then, at the end of the path, he found himself unexpectedly being launched several feet into the air. He landed on his left side, breaking four ribs and dislocating his shoulder.
Scott was in excruciating pain and was having trouble breathing. The crash had knocked the wind out of him, and he wondered if he had punctured a lung. He lay in the snow for 10 minutes before he was finally able to breathe well enough to sit up.
Then he climbed back onto his skis and slowly made his way to the bottom, his terrible pain making it difficult to stay upright.
Scott could have waited for help or even given up. But he knew it was important to reach the base quickly and seek medical attention. So, despite his pain, he got back on the right path and made his way to his destination.
PERSEVERE AND STAY THE COURSE
It can be tough to maintain the right course when life puts difficulties in our way. We face obstacles such as addictions, relationship problems, temptations, and fear. Adding to the challenge is knowing which path to take. Are we pursuing temporary happiness, which can lead to restlessness and disappointment? Or are we following the path of righteousness, which leads to true freedom?
In Matthew 7:13, toward the end of Jesus' most famous sermon, He tells a story about two paths that represent the two ways of living. The first path Jesus describes is a wide one, which many people travel, and which ultimately leads to destruction. The second path is a narrow road that only a few people find, and it leads to life. The narrow path is just that: narrow. Following Jesus isn't going to be the most popular choice. But it will lead you to the freedom of living in the promise of eternal life.
You might face temptations to wander off the path. As sinners, we stumble. We fall down, we mess up, we relapse. None of the people traveling the narrow road are perfect. The narrow path is full of people stumbling and getting back up, through God's grace, even if it means painfully inching their bruised and broken selves down the slope to their final destination.
So how do we get on the narrow way? It starts with accepting Jesus—as your Savior, Friend, and God. He made the incredibly difficult decision to suffer and die for our wrong choices, opening the path for us to have a right relationship with God. Every choice to follow Jesus is made in response to what He first did because He loves us.
TIPS ON HOW TO FIND TRUE FREEDOM
There are practical strategies you can follow when trying to stay on the narrow path. Since perfection is not an option, I offer three suggestions:
FIRST, when you fall, reflect on what caused you to slip, and try to avoid putting yourself in that situation again. And don't dwell on your mistakes; pick yourself up and keep going.
SECOND, take responsibility for your sin. We often want to hide our sinful behavior from others, from God, and even from ourselves. Hiding our sin doesn't help us move away from it. Sin grows in the dark, when we have no one to keep us accountable. Confess your sins, to God and to others, and ask for forgiveness.
THIRD, the healthy narrow path may mean walking away from something unhealthy. When I left a life of drug abuse and devoted myself to Jesus, I had to walk away from certain friendships. The narrow path will most likely cost you something. It may be relationships, it may be creature comforts, or it may be popularity.
Jesus cared about love and compassion way more than popularity. In fact, there were times when Jesus' actions and words caused people to dislike Him, spread rumors about Him, and even try to kill Him. But whether loved or hated, Jesus stayed on His course.
You can stay on the narrow path even in prison. You can also stay on it when you are released from prison. There will be setbacks. But just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, until you reach the end.
ABOUT ZACH SEWELL
Zach Sewell is a Kansas City-area minister and the author of "Prisoners in the Bible," "A Time to Preach," and "Visceral Sin."
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