My walk with Christ easily lends itself to the analogy of a path. That path began in late 1990 when I came to Christ from a very non-Christian worldview and found myself suddenly following Christ.
Much of my walk with the Lord has been pleasant and many days have been spent strolling through meadows or climbing through forest glades on well-marked, smooth paths. As the Lord effortlessly strides ahead, I struggle to keep up, occasionally stumbling over a rock or a root. When I lag too far behind, He stops and looks back waiting for me, always smiling, always patient, always encouraging. Thus He and I have spent many idyllic days in sweet fellowship, and thus over time He has taught me about His ways and has taught me how to walk, and thus I have gradually gotten stronger and better able to follow Him. I have seen His power and His faithfulness, and my trust in Him has become more sure.
This trust and increased strength are important, because the Lord knows, and I know, that my path will not always meander through pleasant meadows. There have been times in the past, and there will be times in the future, when the character of the path changes. There are times when, for His perfect purposes and for my deeper discipleship, the Lord needs to lead me into a darker, dangerous place.
I sense that I am now entering such a time and following Him toward such a place, and I feel that there are many others in this decaying world who are feeling the same thing. For the past two or three years or so, the Lord has led me past alpine lakes and through hardwood and hemlock forests, but now, as I peer up ahead, the landscape seems much more barren. Towering thunderhead clouds loom, billowing up to obscure the sun and rumbling their foreboding tune. The path is beginning to drop steeply and to narrow, becoming harder to follow. Rocks, prominent and jagged, threaten the sides of the trail. A gloomy dusk has cloaked the scene, making it harder to see where to walk. There in front of me is the Lord, still leading, still smiling and still patient, but His looks back to me are now more frequent, wanting to make sure that I am staying close. Does He sense my reluctance to follow Him into the darkness? Does He know my fear? And now it has become clear that the Lord is, in fact, leading me into a season of a darker path as He beckons me down into the foggy chasm.
What, then, is the believer to do when the path becomes treacherous and when the Lord leads us toward the edge of a murky chasm? As I walk with the Lord, there are some basic things to do to make sure I stay on the path.
- Consider Jesus’ example of fearless obedience to His Father’s plan. Jesus’ entire life was one of suffering. He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).” He knew what it was to walk a dark path. In Mark 10:32-33, the Bible says:
- And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, He began to tell them what was to happen to Him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days He will rise.”
When I consider that I am going to walk a dark and difficult path, I need to remember and keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). In Mark 10, as they go up to Jerusalem, He is the only one who knows EXACTLY what awaits Him there. The Lord is beginning the walk to the cross. He knows with certainty that mocking and scourging and crucifixion await Him and yet He is walking ahead of the crowd. Since my Lord accepted this darkest of all possible paths and persevered, so I need to accept whatever path the Lord leads me down and persevere to the end.
- As Jesus trusted and obeyed His heavenly Father and accomplished His work (John 17:4), so I need to trust and obey the Lord and accomplish the work He has given me to do (Ephesians 2:10).
- Regardless of the darkness of the path, the Lord is with me. He has sworn that He will never leave me of forsake me (Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:5).
- Regardless of the darkness of the path, the Lord is the one leading me. The path on which I am traveling may seem dark and difficult, and I may not know the short-term destination, but I know and trust the One leading me. The Lord is trustworthy, and He has sovereignly chosen this path for me, and He is leading me along it. Regardless of the nature of the path, because of the One who has chosen this path for me, I can trust that this is the perfect path.
SDG rmb 7/24/2020