Saturday, December 20, 2014

"I Am The Path"

I met speaker and author, Kelly Hall, on a trip to Israel. As she spoke to our group, I was instantly taken with her depth of wisdom, her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and her knowledge of God's Word. One evening, she and I shared life-experiences and have since maintained a sweet friendship. 

Kelly has a heart and passion to teach us how to embrace "courageous faith" through an "intimate walk with God." If you could personally know her, you would see that she is a woman of courageous and great faith. And though she may tell you that there are times when she questions whether her faith is strong enough, she manages to put her trust in God and not in her circumstances. 

Like many of us, Kelly has experienced difficult struggles and tremendous challenges, but she continues to press in closer to God, seek Him more, and trust Him more. The result is a life of joy as she witnesses God's hand moving mightily in her life and the lives of others. Ironically, one of the words for "joy" is "triumph." Triumph means to have victory. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (I Corinthians 15:57)

Kelly's recent blog, Jesus: I AM the way, the truth, and the life, examines the joy and benefits of trusting Jesus as the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). (See her complete devotional at www.surrenderedheart.com).  For that reason, I am sharing the brief story that was in her devotional, followed by comments on how my heart was deeply touched.

A missionary traveled to a small village in the Amazon Rainforest and hired a guide to navigate the dense South American jungle. When progress became slow and tedious, and it seemed that they were only going in circles, the concerned missionary asked the guide, "How do you know we're on the right path? How do you even know where the path is?" The guide paused, met the missionary's gaze and without the slightest change in his facial expression, declared, "I am the path."

When I read Kelly's devotional, truth resonated within my spirit in a new and exciting way.  I had read John 14:6 many times and had  memorized and quoted the verse often. However, the guide's words, "I am the path," exploded in my spirit with a new revelation of our Savior, "I AM THE PATH." This simple yet profound truth brought me to tears, as I realized that we often make our own path and then find ourselves lost in a jungle of problems and even heartache? 

Poet, Robert Frost, who called himself an Old Testament Christian, understood the importance of choosing the right path as he so beautifully expressed in his poem, "The Road Not Taken." His last stanza sums up the two choices we have in life:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, 
And I, I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference."

There truly are two roads or "paths" that we have to choose from. One path leads to Christ and His kingdom; the other leads to sin and death. We choose to either follow closely after Him or we follow after the things of the world and our own desires. It is impossible to commit to both paths and still reach a destination. Sadly, too many choose their own path instead of the road "less taken."

Kelly points out the analogy between the guide's statement, "I am the path," and Jesus who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Without the jungle guide, there was no path; he was the missionary's only source and hope. 

Jesus is our Guide, our Source and our only Hope. He goes before us and makes a way where there is no way, because He is the one true Path. Without Him, we are lost with no sense of direction. If we follow closely after Him, we needn't be afraid or worried where the path leads, because Jesus will always lead us in the right direction. He knows the way, because IS the Way. The path to God only exists because Jesus cleared the way. He broke down every barrier and destroyed the works of the enemy.

In the natural, I envision a jungle, so dense, that the thick canopy of foliage obscures the light. Dangerous snakes, insects, and animals hide among vines, leafy foliage, underbrush, trees, and weeds that can entangle, immobilize, and potentially kill a human.  I would be following my guide so closely, that he would feel my hot breath on his neck. To tarry or to go my own way would mean certain death, yet that is the choice that many make.

This world is a dangerous and difficult place to navigate. Evil abounds and tries to hide The Light. Without the Lord to light our path, fear looms before us to divert us from His Path. Like the guide who was the path for the missionary, the Lord is the one true path and the way. If we follow Him and never let Him out of our sight, He will lead us to a destination that He alone knows and will reveal as we follow Him. 

Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). Denying oneself is setting aside our will and entrusting our life into Jesus' care by saying, "Not my will, but Your will be done." That is not easy, because it requires crucifying the flesh. 

Jesus surrendered His will to His Father and took up His cross for us. He asks us to take up our cross (those burdens that weigh us down), surrender them to Him, and follow Him. He will carry our burdens if we have faith and trust Him. "For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him with all of their heart" (Hebrews 11:6).

How do we seek the Lord with all of our heart? We seek Him by daily reading and living His Word, praying, praising Him, and fellowshipping with other believers. Our lives can never be complete and joy-filled, until we surrender all to the Lord. When we make that decision to closely follow Him, He will go before us to make a way where there is no way.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a jungle of weighty problems and challenges, then I encourage you to pray this prayer:

      Lord Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. 
I surrender my will to You. Forgive me for trying to follow my own path, for now I carry a burden too heavy to bear. 
You said that You would carry my burdens. 
Today, I lay (name the burden(s)) at Your feet. Help me to follow You more closely, so that Your joy many fill my life as You lead me in paths of righteousness. In faith, I boldly confess that You are my Shepherd who leads and guides me. You take care of my needs. You cause me to find rest and refreshment in Your promises. You lead me with Your Holy Spirit to cleansing and refreshing. You restore my soul and lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. Though I walk through difficulties, threats of peril and danger, I will not fear evil, for You are with me. Your protection and guidance comfort and sustain me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have set me aside for Your service; my blessings run over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen 
(Inspired by Psalm 23)