March 28, 2021
Two of my favorite things are in this picture: The boy and the path.
“On the path” was our code for home. If I called Joe to see what time he wanted supper, he would respond with something like, “I”ll be on the path by seven.” Or, if he needed me to do something for him at the house or the barn he might say, “If you are on the path before me, would you please…”
Do you remember the postman’s motto that went something like, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds”? Well, it was with that same determined regularity that Joe Price would complete a particular ritual as he turned his truck off of the paved road and ambled down the dusty path. Without fail or regard for temperature, he would immediately roll down his window and draw in a deep, contented breath because, as he often said, “The air is fresher on the path.”
If you needed Joe anytime after church on Sunday, you could almost always find him rambling around somewhere “on the path”. If you needed him just after he had enjoyed one of his sweet mama’s delicious Sunday lunches, there’s a good chance you’d find him in this position:
This week, Joe’s lesson is about following a different path. He discusses recognizing and following the path laid out before us by God.
On the Right Path
Psalm 27:11”Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.”
I believe the main reason we don’t know what God’s will is in our life is because we do not ask.
James 4:2 states: “You have not because you ask not”. God knows better than we know ourselves, so if we want to know what His will is, it makes sense that we should just ask. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for specifics. He will guide you.
We also have a guidebook in the Bible—we can even talk to the author. As Christians, God is always with us. He knows us inside and out, and He is with us every step of our journey. He knows where we have been, where we are going, and He knows the best path to travel to get us there.
If we will study His Word for direction, He will remind us of what it says when we are unsure of which road to take.
I think another way that God guides and directs us is through what he impresses upon our minds. He gave us a mind and he wants us to use it. He wants to guide us, not through control (for we have free will), but through ideas. He may give us an idea or impress a thought into our minds and then wait for us to respond. When we do, He will begin to fill in the details.
I ran across this quote while preparing for this morning’s message: “When God gives you an idea, it is called inspiration. When the devil gives you an idea, it is called temptation”. So, how in the world do you tell the difference? The answer is found in Psalm 27:11: ”Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.” All you have to do is ask.
So, if you find yourself looking for direction this week, use your most trusted resources. Let the Bible be your guidebook and let the Lord be your guide.
The path I’m on sure looks a lot different these days. I mean that literally and figuratively. Literally, the landscape of the path toward home has changed. Trees have been cleared, homes have been added, gravel crunches under tires where khaki colored sand used to fly. The people who lived in the houses that line the path have grown older, grown up, moved on…or gone to be with Jesus.
There are also some scars on the path. Hurricane waters dug a deep, jagged trench through the middle of a field. Trees have fallen, sometimes blocking our way to and/or from home. Over time, running water has slowly nibbled at the path’s edges in spots. If you are not careful, you’ll lose your footing and find yourself ankle deep in muck before you know what’s happened. For the most part, however, the path is pretty scenic.
Honestly, I don’t like change very much. I enjoy the security of tradition and routine. Yet, one of my favorite parts of the path is a change- an addition made in later years by Joe’s dad, Mr. Tim, not too long before he passed away. It is a sweet little covered bridge nestled alongside of a creek, honoring the passage of many a tiny foot, horse hoof and golf cart tire that have crossed this section of path over the years.
When I really take the time to think about it, my personal path isn’t really much different than the one at the end of my driveway. It doesn’t look like it did just a few short years ago. What once felt cool and smooth under my feet now feels sharp and jagged. My footing feels unsure. Do I have deep scars running right through my middle? Oh my goodness…I surely do. I feel like trees are constantly falling across my path. Some days I can shove them aside with little effort, while other days I am just so exhausted I decide to rest on them a while. There is a literal fork on the path where I live. I’ve made that slight turn left to get home so many times I can do it in my sleep. But in my personal path, the fork feels different. I stand there and I don’t know which way to go. I feel like I’ve been stalled out in the fork lately.
Joe said in his lesson that we have not because we ask not. So, I’ve asked God several questions this week. But they all pretty much amounted to, “So, since You have put me in this place, what would You have me do now?” Full disclosure, I did not exactly ask this question from a place of humble submission. It came more from a place of weary, angry frustration.
Joe also said, “If we will study His Word for direction, He will remind us of what it says when we are unsure of which road to take.” Well, I do study. Lots. Although I didn’t see it at the time, my devotional study all of this week has been leading me to the answer I think God wanted me to see. I found it this morning. God may not be in a hurry, but he ain’t ever late, either. Right on time…
Today is Palm Sunday. Jesus started down a path of his own this week. Like me (and like you, I’m sure), his path looked much different at the start than it did farther down the road. On Palm Sunday, people lined the path, shouting praises. But Jesus knew where this road would lead. It would lead to his crucifixion. And he kept going. He kept moving forward. For me. For you, too. But perhaps even Jesus took pause at the fork in the road. Maybe even Jesus needed a little reminder that moving forward is the only way Home.
This is a picture of the path where I live. This is the way I get home. I can stand at the fork forever, and I won’t really know which way to go. But if I will just look up….just look beyond the thicket of trees…oh, the wonders that are on the Other Side. All this time I thought I was waiting for God to tell me to go left or go right. And all this time he was saying , “Look up.”
I think I am finally beginning to see that even though the path looks different, it can still be beautiful. Sometimes you have to look a little farther to see it, but the beauty is there.
Maybe you are like me. A little unsure? Maybe the ground underneath your feet doesn’t feel as steady as it once did. Well, here is the advice I am giving you and I’m giving it to me, too.
STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FEET. Lord help us…if we keep looking down or behind us, we will surely fall on our faces. LOOK UP.
We aren’t on this path by accident. Jesus knew we would be here long before we knew it. But He didn’t drop us off and leave us to find our way alone. He put the guidebook in our hands and parked himself right by our side.
There have been some mighty sweet moments on my path. There are sweet moments left to come. I believe that now. Storms may blow in and dig deep trenches through the middle. That’s just how it goes. But, time has a way of healing things, so maybe those places won’t feel so deep forever. And God, in His loving mercy, gives us pretty covered bridges on our path, to remind us of those we’ve loved who traveled along beside us for a little while. Leave it to Mr. Tim and Jesus to build a little bridge like that.
If the path you’re on right now is pretty, look beside you. You’ll see Jesus. If the path you’re on is a little bit scary, look beside you. Hold your hand out. You’ll see Jesus. If you’ve come to the fork, and you aren’t quite sure which way to go, look beside you. You’ll see Jesus. He’s the guidebook and the guide all wrapped up in one.
No matter where you are right now, your journey is not yet complete. So, just take a moment to slow down a tiny bit. Roll your window down. Close your eyes. Breathe in the sweet, fresh air of Jesus for a while. Let it fill you up, my friend (Joe was right…the air really is fresher on the path). Then move forward. Just one step. One foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, but I think you’ll enjoy it more if you’ll take the time to look around. From what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty scenic route. And the best part is, with the Bible as your guidebook and Jesus as your guide, you will always be on the right path.
It’s the path that leads you Home…
There’s No Place Like Home, sweet friend. There’s No Place Like Home.❤️
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe