There is a path that every born-again believer is on, it is in a sense not one of our choosing continuously, for we were set upon it by Christ the day that we came in submission to Him at the cross. We all envision it a little differently, some see a stretch of paved road, perhaps a rutted road with grass growing up in the middle of it, or even just a simple path, either way that you see this path in your mind, it has several things in common with every other path that your brothers and sisters in Christ are on.
For one it is straight, (Matt. 7:14) laser straight, there are no curves upon this path, for it leads to one place, your eternal home, the Kingdom of God, but that Kingdom is not always visible, for each of these paths have valleys and mountains, and only on top of these mountains can you get a glimpse of your home, and here alone is where the path can seem the smoothest. We need take little caution where we place our feet on the mountaintop, for we cannot take our eyes off of that place that awaits us, but rarely is the path flat, and the way down into the valleys can be just as fraught with danger as the valley itself. There are hand holds here, left by those who have traveled this path before, the examples of those not only in the Scriptures, but of others that were chosen by our Lord to walk these paths, we hold firm in the knowledge and trust that their steps were sure, and the hand holds are secure for us, faith is the key, truth is how we manage to take each step towards the valley.
In the valley though, we have only one to guide us, and He is the only guide we need. There is sorrow, grief and loneliness, all this and more, but He is well acquainted with all of the them, (Isaiah 53:3) His rod and His staff comfort us, (Psalms 23:4) and in His presence, our fear is assuaged. Sometimes the valleys are so long and deeper than we ever imagined they could be, fear and despair try to make us fall, ask of us to give up, it is too difficult, but joy comes in the morning, (Psalms 30:5) and we know that our Lord will never leave us or forsake us. (Deut. 31:8)
The trek on the path back up to the top of the next mountaintop can be just as dangerous though, for we can begin to see the clouds parting, feel the warmth of the sun on our face, and the valley of despair growing dimmer as we continue the climb. We think less in these moments sometimes of the One who had faithfully held our hand in that distant valley, and we reach with too much vigor to again reach the peak ahead of us, we forget, and we slip, and many times He allows us to fall. We call out as our grip lessens, and He grabs us, sets us firmly on our feet, and with calm assurance tells us that we must never be in too big of a hurry, the dangers on the path He is well aware of, for He not only knows the way, but made this path just for us. But we must not forget Him, He is our guide, and we are to follow Him in trust and obedience.
On both sides of the path on occasion there are other trails, other roadways, and all of them lead to the same place, the world, you know this for it is all you have ever seen on either side since you began your journey, the cross far behind, the Kingdom is ahead. Those of the world stand at the forks of the road, of the path that you are on, and they inform you of the wonders of the world that await you if you will just take a moment to come and see. Pleasures beyond your wildest imagination, accolades and personal achievements yours for the taking, wonders to behold, and they are all just waiting for you to come and claim them. Your Lord and Master watches as you step off the true path, and onto the one of false promises, of temporary happiness instead of eternal joy, and He waits. You know the warning signs, you have heard Him teach you the Words of Truth, but the draw is too great, the temptation is so compelling. You tell yourself it will only be for a moment, just a quick look and then you will return, your faith can remain just as strong in the world as it is on the path, how long were you gone, a day, month, years?
The world and all of its deceitful pleasures can seem so alluring, but there is no comparison to the joy that you knew in the presence of your Savior, and you hear His voice calling once again to you from the distance. The way back to the path in some ways make the valleys that you have known seem easy, for the sweetness of the voice of the world that once called to you is now a venomous rasp, accusing you of desertion, calling you every foul name it can think of for your attempts to leave it and all those that you claimed to love behind, and for what, One who offers you no immediate satisfaction, who promises only suffering and trials in this life, traitor, how dare you leave this world behind. He is waiting patiently for you, with a smile on His face that seems to say, “Well, did you learn anything of eternal value, are you ready to continue?” They scream and curse at you from the side paths, telling you that you are a fool, His path is a fantasy, only the world can offer you hope, but they cannot see the storm clouds behind them, they cannot see the master of lies (John 8:44) who is whispering in their ears. You try to warn them of the danger, but they will have nothing of it, they return to their temporary pleasures, not seeing the chasm of eternal hopelessness until they plunge into it.
The path becomes easier, for your trust and faith in Christ who leads you has grown, His words are true and faithful, and His leading sure, as He had always promised. You move slower now though, the Kingdom is in full view, but age has taken its toll, and the body has become weak and racked with pain, but He holds you securely, and your steps will not falter. The flesh, once strong, proud and arrogant is now weak, and you accept it, for in weakness we are made strong, (Psalms 73:26) but the spirit, once weak, now has grown and become trusting, strong in the confidence of His promises. You have finally reached the gate, the gate that so few have found, you do not turn to look back, but instead look intently into the eyes of pure love, at the hands that held you up so many times, that strengthened you beyond measure, at the hand of the Savior as He reaches to open the gate while He smiles at you and says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”