Following the right path…

There is a point in Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress where the intrepid Christian finds himself at a crossroads. To the left and to the right there are relatively comfortable looking paths. Straight ahead is a challenging climb up a hill. There is a decision to be made. His companions decide that the paths to left and right will probably lead round the hill, rejoining the main path further on. One takes the path to the left, which leads into a great wood and on into Danger. The second takes the path to the right, which passes through a wide field, and leads to Destruction. His companions are never seen again. Christian makes his decision and follows straight ahead. The straight path, the right path, is the hardest. (Pilgrims Progress, Chapter 3 (p.39))

Jeremiah 6:16 says ‘Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask where the ancient path is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’

We constantly face decisions which impact on our lives. Sometimes we make the right decision. Often we look back and wonder whether, if we had decided differently, we might have found rest for our souls!

The ancient paths in which we are to walk are those which were established long ago and lead us on towards the Kingdom of God. Whilst they are not always the easy option, they should be well worn and clear, but the clutter and pressures of our lives make them difficult to see, and the complexity of our world means that there are many alternative paths available.  We need help if we are truly to discover the paths God has laid out for us.

We need to be people of prayer. Prayer at the beginning of the day. Prayer at the end of the day. Prayer at various other points during the day. Not just rushed, mumbled liturgy. Rather thoughtful, open, warts and all, heart and soul prayer. Prayer which speaks, but prayer which listens. Contemplative prayer. For that, we need to stop. We need to be still.

And of course we are not called just to sit still. We need walk out into the world where He has placed us, with our eyes open. Ready to serve in any way we can. Ready to show the love of Christ to all those with whom we come into contact. Ready to learn. Ready to listen. Ready to share the love of Jesus. Evangelical readiness. For that we need to get going.

Someone once asked Mother Theresa to pray that God would show them how they should be spending their life. If God showed you all that, she replied, you would not depend on Him. I will pray that he shows you where you should direct your steps today.

Next time you are at a crossroads, or an alternative ‘easy’ path attracts your eye, be still. Take time to reflect and listen. Be contemplative. As your confidence in Christ is restored, get ready. Be evangelical. GO!

Richard Jackson is the Executive Director of LifePicture UK and former Executive Director of Family Foundations Trust