Previously in the path series, we have looked at:
- Paths Part 1 – Where is Your Path Going to? – The two possible different destinations of our life paths.
- Paths Part 2 – The Geography of God’s Paths – What God’s paths lead us through.
Today we’re going to look at knowing the way and knowing the way back.
You know the way
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:2-6
If you have a relationship with Jesus, you know the way. You know where God’s path is heading to. And you know how to get the supplies required for you to walk on God’s path – wisdom, discernment, understanding, hope… You walk with Jesus daily and you ask God for them. If you can’t see what’s around the corner, you ask God to lead you. We don’t have to be able to see where the path is going next to know that we’re heading in the right direction.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. – Psalm 25:4-5
Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. – Psalm 25:12
When we choose to walk on God’s paths we gain wisdom. And wisdom also helps us to stay on God’s paths. If we come to a crossroad, wisdom will call out to us. Wisdom comes when we follow God closely. If we’re feeling lost and don’t know what to do, maybe we’ve lost sight of Jesus because we’re not walking closely with him. Maybe we’ve run off ahead. Maybe we’re dawdling behind.
Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: …All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge… I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice – Proverbs 8:1-3, 8-9, 20
I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. – Proverbs 4:11-12
Sin that opposes wisdom
Remember the crooked and desolate paths? They’re everywhere. And sometimes they are tempting to turn onto, because it’s what our sinful nature wants to do.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 14:12
We are warned many times in the Bible about the consequences of turning off God’s paths into a lifestyle of sin.
One who wanders from the way of good sense will rest in the assembly of the dead. – Proverbs 21:16
Do you know what the biggest opposer of wisdom is? The biggest danger of turning off God’s paths? In the Bible, the sin that gets most talked about in relation to crooked and desolate paths is adultery. Sexual sin sends people off-course, heading for the wrong destination. But if we seek God’s wisdom, we can overcome those and any other temptations.
So you will be delivered [by wisdom] from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life. – Proverbs 2:16-19
Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death. – Proverbs 7:25-27
What happens if we’ve chosen to walk on a sinful path?
Some of us have chosen sinful paths at times in our lives. Maybe we’ve gone a short way or maybe we’ve gone a long way off God’s path. If we find ourselves on a blatantly sinful path, a path that leads to death and the devil’s house of horrors, does that mean we’re stuck on that path? Have we screwed up so that we cannot get back onto God’s path? No. Not as long as we’re still alive.
That’s the beauty of Jesus. All we have to do is call for help and ask for forgiveness and Jesus will come running to find us. That’s not to say that we or others won’t have wounds to heal from the path we chose. But no matter how scary the path we’re on is, no matter how wounded we are, no matter how many obstacles are in the way, no matter how many bad things we’ve done, Jesus will come for us if we call out to him. He is the Good Shepherd and he will always come for his lost sheep. If we allow him to, Jesus will bring us back onto God’s righteous path for us because he is our righteousness. And you better believe he’ll treat your wounds too.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. – Matthew 18:12-14
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:10-11
let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:7-8
Knowing the way is very important. But so too is knowing that you and the people around you are never out of reach of Jesus if you’ve gone the wrong way.
- How do you feel about not knowing what’s around the corner in your life?
- Do you feel like you forget the way along God’s path sometimes? Are you more prone to running off ahead or dawdling behind? What can you do to keep in step with Jesus?
- Which crooked and desolate paths are the most tempting for you to turn onto, or what are your biggest sin temptations? What boundaries could you put in place to keep yourself on God’s path?
- How does it make you feel to know that the Good Shepherd, Jesus, will always come for you? And others?
All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.