The Path Leads Up
Sweat ran down her face, stinging her eyes and dripping off the end of her nose. She reached up, grabbing the next hand hold. She pulled the rest of her body up behind her, finding new footholds as she went.
“Just one more,” Gina thought. “Just one more.” It was a long stretch. “If I can push off with my left foot, maybe I can gain enough speed to propel me over.” She paused and took a deep breath, then pushed off the wall face. “OPPS!” She swung past the hold she was trying to reach and then back again, missing it altogether. She dangled there, swinging back and forth on the rope that held her.
“It’s okay,” Mrs. Myers. “I’ve got you.”
“I hope so,” Gina mumbled to herself.
“You want to try again?” said the young man who was her belaying partner.
“I think you can let me down now,” she answered. Why had she let her kids talk her into this anyway? She pushed out from the wall as the rope gave, repelling downward.
“You could try a different path up this time Mrs. Myers.”
“I think it’s time “Mrs. Myers” admitted how old and out of shape she is and goes to dinning hall for a cup of coffee." Gina replied. "I think there are some grannies playing Scrabble.”
The young man laughed, “I’ll help you get the gear off.”
“Thanks, Steve,” she said. “You’ve been a big help.”
After removing the belaying equipment, Gina wandered back to the camp’s dining hall. One of her favourite activities at family camp was playing Scrabble with the old ladies. It was a different path than the one that lead up the climbing wall, but it was a good one.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to let go of one path and follow another. Gina’s choice was simple, but that’s not always the case. As I look back over the years, I recognize God’s leading in many situations that appeared to be the wrong path at the time. How could God call me to one ministry, if He closed that door? Was I reading Him wrong? What path should I be on?
I have learned that it is not always the path itself, but what we do on the path that is really important. Do I climb the “wall” with determination and accept seeming defeat with grace? Spiritually, I may deeply desire one path, but God has another one waiting for me. Do I accept the new path? Can I be flexible, trusting His plan? Is one path better than another, more spiritual, more holy, or is it my response, my attitude, my motivation that really matters?
Life in Christ is about relationship, not about doing. As we grow in Christ and in relationship with Him, our character changes. A professor of mine once told us that if we were in God’s will today, we would be in God’s will ten years from now. Living in God’s will is a daily process. It’s a path all its own. It’s learning to abide in Christ that helps us understand God’s path. Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4) If we are abiding in Christ, He will give us direction as we need it. The fruit belongs to Him.
Often, as Christians, we struggle so much with what God wants us to DO that we forget about what He wants us to Be. He is far more concerned with our character than where we work, live, or go. Keeping our eyes on Him and our ears open to His leading is vital, but it's not the most important part of our walk with Him. What makes understanding God’s direction possible is the relationship we build with Him. As we abide in Him, His Spirit begins to shape us and change our inner man.
I love the verses in Matthew 22:37-39, where Jesus tells the lawyer what the greatest commandment is. “Jesus said to Him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ …”you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Loving God is our first responsibility. We cannot love Him if we do not know Him and we can’t know Him if we don’t abide in Him. The path that God has chosen for us is to know Him and love Him and then share that love with others.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ( NKJV)
God wants us to know Him and trust Him. Trust is built through relationship and guidance grows out of a trusting relationship. Whether you’re facing a climbing wall, a career move, or just another day, keep looking up. Jesus is your greatest source of direction, but abiding in Him will develop the greatest relationship you can ever have. Know Him. Love Him. Abide in Him. He will direct your paths.