The Journey: The Road Less Traveled

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How do you want to be remembered? Boil it down to one sentence – what you would like people to say about you?

Why don’t you write that down in a journal or your planner, or put it in the Notes app on your phone.

Make it a goal.

Often we wander through life thinking things will turn out the way we want while living in a way that prevents that. The road you take in life determines your destination, both literally and metaphorically. You won’t get to New York by taking the road to Atlanta. Nor will you live a life of character while taking the path of sin and compromise. So if you really do have an image of what you’d like to have said about you, are you living in a way to make that become a reality?

If a person’s goal was to be on the Fortune 500 list there would be many steps to take to achieve that: education, training, starting your business, making sound decisions for your company, hiring the right people, and keeping up to date in your field. If you set out to accessories-adult-blur-935943become National Teacher of the Year that would require development as well. It would mean getting the proper education and training. It would also require development in specific areas: classroom management and organizational skills, understanding children and learning styles, getting continuing education and National Board certification, and mastering the dynamics of being a highly contributing, highly respected part of a faculty.

Likewise, if your goal is to be a godly mom, a faithful servant of the Father, a shining light for Christ in your company, or whatever, it doesn’t just happen. It starts with a choice: the choice of committing to Christ above all things. That is followed by more intentional choices including studying God’s Word, pursuing mentoring or training, and taking any other particular steps that would lead you to become the woman you hope to be. It would mean choosing a different path in life, one that would lead people to say of you, “She was a worshipper of God and her heart was open to the Lord,” as scripture says of Lydia in Acts 16:14, or “She was always doing good works and acts of charity,” as Luke says of Dorcas in Acts 9:36, or “I commend her to you. She is a servant of the church and a benefactor of many,” as Paul said of Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2.

The following line by Robert Frost may be one of the most well-known lines of poetry of any American author, and it has been interpreted by many.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

As we think today of our life, our goals and wishes, it would serve us well to recall this brief line of poetry and to ask ourselves some questions.

In light of what I wrote down a few minutes ago about how I’d like to be remembered, am I on the path that would lead to that being said about me?

If I want a Godly, noble, upright outcome, then am I choosing the path that leads to that?

Is the path I am currently taking today preparing me for what I want to become?

Am I on the path I am today because it is the well-traveled path and I can’t shake the insecure neediness of being like everyone else?

Am I too fearful to choose the path “less traveled by?”

Am I willing to try a better path starting today?

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Frost was correct. The path we are on does make all the difference. God’s word said the same thing hundreds of years before Frost did. It says:

Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 ESV

          There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.                      Proverbs 14:12 ESV

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

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Today we have a choice. We can choose to follow along with other sheep happily wandering around the pasture with no direction and no leadership. This is a well-worn, wide path. Or we can choose to follow the Shepherd closely, staying right at His side, listening to His every word, obeying His every command, and making choices that lead us to the lofty goal we desire. It won’t happen in a day, a month, or even a year. But we will find ourselves growing toward that goal of godliness, holiness, and wisdom year by year. So here is the choice:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV

What do you choose? What will be said of you when you come to the end of your path of life? Will you take the narrow way, the road less traveled? It will make all the difference.

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Back to Basics: Faith

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“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. … And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:1,3,6 NIV

It’s coffee time! Or tea! Or chocolate milk! Or… whatever. Grab you favorite morning treat and sit back, read, and sip.

I’ve heard it said that we tend to judge others based on their behavior, but we judge our self based on our intentions. I have found this to be true of myself. I intend to exercise and eat right every day, I intend to save more, spend less. I intend to write cards to people more often than I do. The reality is I often find stray cards around my house that have been half written in and never mailed. So I imagine I’m falling short in other areas too.

I intend to walk in faith when tough times come, too. I consider myself a woman of faith. Maybe you want to think of yourself as a woman of faith, too. You know the Word of God, you want to have faith, you intend to have faith, but when a crisis hits… hmmm. Do you walk through it in faith? Or do you find yourself so overcome with the tragedy or the unknown or the fear that faith flies out the window? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone to church and heard people say in response to the turmoil, “I’m praying. Trust the Lord. He’ll get you through this.” And you walk away thinking That’s easier said than done!

It’s always much easier to say things than to walk them out. But we want to become women who “Walk by faith not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) So how do we do that? How do we have faith when we don’t have faith in that moment? If we dig in scripture and make a careful observation of God’s word we get some help.

pexels-photo-259027Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” What do you put your confidence in? Some things I have chosen to put confidence in over the years are my husband, a job, finances, doctors, my “good”-ness, truth, family – and these are just a few. Have these ever rescued me? No. I guess they’ve made my anxious heart quit racing a little at times, but they have never had the answer or the final say. There is only One worth putting our confidence in. Only one that we can be assured has the power to rescue.

Do we truly believe what Hebrews 3:11 says? “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Or is this another of those things that we want to believe? If we truly believe in the depths of our being that God formed the whole universe out of nothing, then, mercy, what could there ever be to worry about? The one who made it and spun it into motion is in control! Perhaps that’s our core issue. Because we can’t reason it out, we struggle to believe it.

436b8212d90f6d298b44b1df8e16a243-whirlpool-galaxy-black-holesI see articles on faith issues being “proven” by science. I know these are meant to calm our curious mind and help as we struggle with unbelief. But in reality, faith and science are on opposite ends of a spectrum. Science is based on what can be observed by the senses. But faith… what does it say? It is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV) Totally unobservable by the senses. Faith is based on nothing physical, but on everything spiritual. It goes against our rational 21st century technologically leaning brains. Faith is believing in the unseen, not the observable. But we will see the results after we walk in faith.

In the Gospel of Mark there is a story of a young man who was mute and had seizures. In desperation his father had brought him to the disciples to be healed. The disciples prayed over him, but to no effect. Cue the heralding trumpets… and our rescuer, Jesus, appears in the story! He has come to save the day, as He does. But not without a quick lesson. His first words are not words of healing, but a gentle rebuke, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” He chastises them for their unbelief! I wonder what He would say to me in many of my trials and unbelief (that I like to call “weak faith,” it sounds nicer).

But today I’m going to call it what it is: unbelief. In their unbelief the disciples wanted to heal the boy. In his unbelief the father brought the boy and “hoped” he could be healed. In our unbelief we come to Jesus and say the exact thing this father said, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (Mark 9:22 KJV) We desperately want Christ’s intervention in our life. We pray for His help, but we come to Him many times on shaky faith-feet just like this father, wondering if He really can.

possible-1060212_1280The story goes on… “And Jesus said to him, ‘ “If You can?” All things are possible to him who believes.'” (Mark 9:23 KJV) Jesus tells us flat-out, all things are possible! The condition on that possibility is belief, faith, trust in God that it WILL happen, not just that it CAN. In the next chapter of Mark, Jesus tells His disciples that “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” And Luke 1:37 says it the other way around, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” (KJV) or as it says in the NIV, “For no word from God will ever fail.” Why are all things possible simply by our believing? Because we are a believing in a God who never fails.

And then comes the part of the story that we need to focus on to strengthen our faith. “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.'” (Mark 9:24 KJV) The father realized Jesus’ power, and he realized his own frailty, his lack of faith. This is where I live. I go for days or weeks at a time living life under my own power, doing the routine things that do not require the supernatural. (We can do that, you know? Live from day-to-day without the influence of God.) And then a storm, or trial, or problem comes along where I need God. And it takes that moment for me to realize God’s omnipotence and my insignificance and poverty of soul. At that moment I fall before Him in prayer confessing my total lack of faith and my inability to make myself believe. I believe Lord! Help my unbelief!

So there you have it one of two keys to having faith: ask God for it! So simple. Just ask God, “I choose to believe Lord, help me when I can’t make myself believe.”

pexels-photo-208278And the second key to having faith? It is found in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (NKJV) Our faith comes by hearing His Word. When my faith is weak, I go to His word and read it. And just lately I’ve begun reading it out loud because of this verse. If the Bible says “faith comes by hearing” then I want to literally hear it with my ears as well as hearing it in my mind when I read silently. And at the same time our enemy is hearing the scripture I’m building my life on, and he’s getting the message to “back off” because this is where I stand!

The other verse quoted above from Hebrews 11 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” If we want to please God, we must choose to have faith. Do you desire to be a God-pleaser? Then it’s time to make a choice and act on it. My sweet husband says that faith is like a muscle, the more we exercise it the more it grows and develops. I’ve found that to be true in my life. As I’ve learned to take a good intention of having faith and turned it into a choice I act on to believe God in any situation, my faith has grown. God proves Himself true by the results, and walking in faith becomes easier year by year as my faith muscle grows.

So ladies, there you have it, some simple keys to faith: 1) Acknowledge our belief and ask God to help our unbelief. 2) Hear the word of God. 3) Choose to believe and act on faith. To believe or not to believe, that is the question. It’s your choice. Will you be a God-pleaser? As Joshua 24:15 says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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