As a young boy, King David was familiar with pathways. Leading the sheep over the hills to green pastures, taking a path to still cool waters, and finally, to a safe haven for the night; David knew the importance of staying on the path. His Psalms have many references to his boyhood upbringing and the lessons he learned. All of us can relate to childhood experiences that shape who we are today, and how we understand the world around us through the lenses of those ancient days.
In my story, staying on the path was vital as the many days and nights spent in the woods of NW Arkansas clearing out a family retreat that had it's challenges. A poisonous snake, called a copperhead, lived in the woods, and in a patch of leaves it is hard to see. So my father always kept pathways clear of leaves and debris so seeing this snake was possible, but only if you stayed on the path. Years later, that same message was replayed in my ears as we prepared to trek up the Himalayan mountains in Nepal for the first time. In the lower elevations, where it was hot and steamy, a disgusting creature called a leech, waited on stems of grass and bushes, ready to attach to any unsuspecting human or animal. When a host is found, they will proceed to burrow their head into the skin or hide and fill up on blood. So, we were told to "stay on the path". Copperheads inject poison into your body, and leeches suck out blood. Our spiritual journey is much like these illustrations. When we leave the path, danger is lurking.
In these darkened days, the path can be hard to find without the Word of God, which David says in Psalm 119:105 is a "light to my path." Jesus Christ came and cleared the path of debris blown in by sin. If we stay on the path, a glorious destination awaits us. Human nature has tried to make new paths, shortcuts, or make the path easier to navigate. All this has brought compromise and weakened faith that has harmed the body as "poison" has been injected by false doctrines, ease and comfort, or life that has been sucked out by messages that 'tickle the ears'.
I have tried to live by this mandate my whole life. Some seasons of life the path was confusing, did not take the course I expected, and had many hills and valleys, but I did my best to stay on the path. When Rhonda and I stepped in to pastoring Grove Christian Center after her father, Leon Vernon, passed on to heaven, a path had been established for us to follow. GCC had been designated as a church where the gifts of God, and His calling, must never be replaced. The power of God to touch people through the Holy Spirit has been, and will always be, given the highest priority. The Lord tells Jeremiah to say to the people:
"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, then you will find rest for your souls."
In these days of confusion, fear, chaos, and immorality, it is imperative that we Stay On The Path! Selah