When I was a kid, I sometimes played in a briar patch in the woods behind my house. Seriously. I would carry a sword (i.e. big stick) into the middle of the briar patch and pretend I was a great warrior/explorer who had to make it through this enemy land. Then I would fight my way through the evil forces.
It never surprised me when I got cut or scratched – after all, I was in a briar patch! I figured that was the price I had to pay for justice. So I would advance, one step at a time, fighting my way to the other side.
Looking back now, that memory makes me smile, but (obviously) not because I accomplished anything. In fact, in all of the times I engaged in The Great Briar Patch War (as it was dubbed in the history books), I don’t think I ever put a serious dent in those tangled briars. I also never made it completely through to the other side.
This did not phase me. If I had really wanted to reach the other side of the woods, I would have taken a different path.
That memory brings up an interesting question? In life, does your path really matter? In other words, as you experience life, does it make any difference which paths you choose to walk?
According to the wisdom of our culture, the answer to that question is a RESOUNDING NO. They say:
- It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
- All paths lead to the place.
- It doesn’t matter how you get there. Just choose a path and start walking.
But is that good advice?
On some level, you can make the argument that there is an element of truth in these admonishments. After all, if you come to the edge of a forest and see a path, but choose instead to trudge through thickets, you COULD still reach same destination as the those who follow a proven path.
Your journey will be difficult, of course. You will be cut and scratched. Your progress will be slow and painful. You will be exposed to snakes and poison and troubles. Still, despite great troubles, you COULD reach the same destination.
Of course, you might not. Your safe arrival is not guaranteed. You could get lost along the way. You could fall into snare of some sort. You could be injured and never recover. You could take a wrong turn and wind up somewhere you never intended to be.
And then there is this – at the end of your journey, when you look back, what have you really accomplished. You have spent all of your energy fighting through the thickets, and as a result, you’ve never made the progress you could have made. Even if you arrive, you have paid a steep price.
In Proverbs 22: 5, Solomon wrote: In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his heart stays far from them. In other words, Solomon tells us that this world is filled with dangerous paths. The only way to protect yourself – the only way to keep your heart from being cut and ensnared along the way – is to stay away from them. Choose a path that takes you where you want to go.
That’s why God wants something better for us than a random wandering through life’s thickets. He wants us to be safe. He wants us to avoid pain and frustration, and He wants us to arrive unharmed. To that end, He marks a path for us and tells us to follow Him. Those who are willing to follow experience a wonderful journey, and a meaningful destination.
The path does matter. Choose it wisely. Decide where you want to go, and then choose a path that will take you there. If you choose wisely, you will arrive safely, with your heart intact. And when you look back one day you will find you have done more with your life than just fight briars.
Note: This post is part of a series entitled, “Lies People Believe”. For an introduction to the series, read THIS POST.