A Tale of Two Paths
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Saturday, I went up on a mountain to pray and seek the Lord. I desired to know Godís will concerning the Police Academy. Here, in Colorado, getting away is easy, especially going up to a mountain to pray. Mountains surround us on all sides. I chose to go up to Telluride, an hour and a half drive from us, to seek God.
When I arrived in Telluride, I first sought information about the town and any hiking trails in the area. While I warmed my bones over some coffee, I reviewed a map of the town and surrounding areas. I located a trail called Beaver Creek Trail that appeared to be within easy walking distance of the coffee house in which I sat.
At first, I could not find the trail which had seemed so clear on the map. I arrived at the end of a street and saw a trail leading up into the mountains, but it appeared to be blocked off by one of those swing gates that blocks off parking lots. Prevented from going up that path, I sought others. A narrow trail ran off toward a pond and I followed that one instead.
The trail I followed was truly narrow, less than a foot wide with only a few footprints in the snow marking it off. I followed it as best I could, though, and came to a large field. After searching around a bit for a likely place to pray, I found a small hill that had a few boulders on it that could serve as chairs. So, I climbed the hill, huffing and puffing all the way, until I took a seat overlooking the town. I prayed.
After about 10 minutes of praying and listening for God, I decided that I needed to move on. Again, a narrow trail led the way off toward the woods. The trail was difficult to follow and I feared losing my way but something compelled me to keep moving. I stopped here and there to look out over a small creek that bordered the path, but mostly continued the difficult, steep ascent.
Finally, near exhaustion and still worried about losing my way, I stumbled onto a very broad path. My heart leapt within me upon seeing this nice, smooth trail. The narrow path had been quite difficult to follow, but this path looked relatively easy. It even hosted a sign that told me the destination. The trail led to a waterfall that lay about 2 miles from where I entered the path. Oooh, I thought, a waterfall. Let me go there and marvel at Godís creation.
The broad path, it turned out, was quite easy follow, with none of the crags and roots that marred the narrow path. Although a continuous upward climb, it proved easy to navigate and I ascended quite rapidly. Many footprints marked the narrow path and the snow had melted nearly to nothing under the pounding of many feet. Just seeing the fact that so many others had walked this way gave me comfort after seeing few signs of passage on the narrow trail.
As I continued upward, though, something began to nag at me. Although I headed in a different direction and made progress toward a certain destination, was that destination the one I sought? I came to this mountain to seek the Lord, and though I kept him ever in mind as I hiked, was I in fact finding Him? I decided that I was not. He can be found in nature, and everything around me shouted of his majesty, but following the broad path that I was following had not led me to the destination I desired.
Moreover, the steep ascent past 9000 feet brought several concerns. Although I had grown accustomed to living at 6000 feet, I had now entered rarified air and done so quite rapidly. To climb very quickly brought grave dangers. The seemingly effortless nature of the climb up the broad path was itself a problem for the unwary traveler. In that way, the narrow path seemed safer because climbing that path was hardly effortless and one could receive proper warning before overexerting oneself.
Armed with these revelations, I sought a likely spot to depart the broad path. A small trail led off toward a bubbling brook on my left. I walked down toward the stream and stopped by a group of rocks near the body of water. There, I sought the Lord and found Him. In doing so, I realized that only when I left the broad path did I find what I had sought.
After some time of prayer, meditation, and Bible study, I decided it was time to leave. Should I resume the ascent up the broad path or head back down? A brief reflection revealed to me that I should descend and not look backward toward what I had Ďmissedí by not continuing on the broad path. I did not actually believe that Iíd turn into a pillar of salt if I looked behind me, but I did think God would be displeased with me if I showed any sign of desiring what I had clearly left behind at his urging. The broad path led to nothing worthwhile and I should not show regret at moving away from its target.
Interestingly, while the broad path maintained an illusion of progress, it did not lead me toward what I wanted. Rather, only when I left its well-marked ways did I find the destination for which I yearned.
On the way down, I crossed paths with many travelers ascending the broad path. The sight of other faces did not deter me from my destination, nor did the fact that other people obviously desired what lay at the end of the broad path make me at all interested in that outcome. Instead, I searched for the narrow path I had left an hour or two earlier.
To find the narrow path again proved difficult. Only the familiar sign gave me a clue regarding its location. To continue on the path also proved trying. I had to constantly be alert to keep from losing my way. But, when I reached the end of the narrow path, there was far greater joy than any that could be known on the broad path. It was not easy to follow the narrow path and, in fact, I took many falls along the way, but only on its seldom walked length did I find what I sought.
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I really enjoyed your article. It is very well written and describes your quest beautifully. It reminds me of these Scriptures: Matt.7:13--"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and BROAD IS THE WAY that leads to destruction, and there ARE MANY who go in by it. (14) "Because narrow is the gate and DIFFICULT IS THE WAY which LEADS TO LIFE, and there ARE FEW who find it. Thank you for sharing this with us! Blessings, Sharon
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