Friday, November 6, 2015
the path of the righteous
The Place: Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The Occasion: Business/Mini-Romantic Get-Away Trip
The Participants: Chuck and Victoria Anderson
The Mission: A few customer sales visits, eating as much seafood as humanly possible, and relaxing on the powder white sands of the Gulf Coast together.
Chuck had flown in from business out of New York.
I had flown in from Chicago.
We met in Atlanta's airport.
Once reunited, we took a short flight together to Fort Walton's airport anxious to start our "Romantic Get-Away" trip.
Chuck arranged everything in advance: beachfront hotel, upgraded rental car, primo restaurants, etc.
It was an impromptu vacation that we were very much looking forward to since we hadn't been together in over two weeks.
Once in Florida, we held hands and casually rolled our suitcases to our favored rental car vendor and picked up a brand new Buick Rendezvous. For those of you unfamiliar with the old Buick Rendezvous, it was a "crossover car" made for consumers who wanted the cargo carrying capacity and elevated seating of an SUV but who never planned to take the vehicle off the pavement. Because of this, the Rendezvous was developed as a front-wheel drive SUV that drove similar to a standard car, just higher.
With gooey-gum-drop eyes filled with love and anticipation for the romantic time we would soon have together, Chuck thoughtfully loaded our luggage pieces into the vehicle, opened/closed my door (like the gentleman he always is), and proceeded to show me a map with the fastest route to our beachfront hotel. It was a magical time... the beginning of our mini-vacation of LOVE! WOO HOO! We drove onto the highway - my husband taking charge as "acting pilot" of the vehicle while I assumed the role of his faithful "co-pilot". We breathed in the glorious fresh air and acted like newlyweds who had just left for their honeymoon, laughing and enjoying one another's company while driving to our resort destination.
I was so excited to be with MY MAN. Sure, I knew Chuck would fit in one or two customer sales visits during this trip, but that would allow me some time alone to enjoy a great novel by the pool or get a manicure. One thing was certain, this was going to be a FUN vacation together!
In 2001, navigation systems were not yet mainstream in rental vehicles. So as we drove along, we relied upon our map to get us safely to our hotel. Since I was acting co-pilot, I was in charge of navigation. Now admittedly, I am not the most adept at giving directions or reading maps, and I was distracted by the beautiful shoreline and dreamy expectations of our time now together. So, when we neared the resort, I failed to pay attention to the path we were on and missed telling Chuck when to turn. This resulted in us overshooting the entrance to our hotel. No biggie, right? Easily correctable.
Chuck found a nearby souveneir shop and pulled in so that he could turn our vehicle around. Once in the parking lot, we both realized that we could actually see our hotel from behind the shop. In fact, the only thing separating the two buildings was a small sand dune.... but the road entrance was back the way we originally came from. Suddenly the proper entrance seemed too far away to my husband, and without thought, he impulsively decided to "gun it" toward the sand ahead.
As I remember the next few moments playing out, it seemed as if life began to move in slow motion. For in this instance of impulse, my husband had forgotten that he was behind the wheel of a vehicle unintended for off-roading. On the other hand, I immediately remembered that the Rendezvous was not a four-wheel drive SUV and panicked... I quickly yelled out in desparation, "Noooooo!" But alas, the deed was already done. As the tires hit the soft earth beneath us, we both instantly knew it was too late. We were stuck. Really stuck. Worse yet, the more Chuck spun the tires, the deeper the car sank into the sand... and the farther we felt from the hotel and each other.
In the end, we were able to contact a towing service who came to our rescue... but at a very high cost. After what seemed like hours, we were finally able to check into the hotel. The same hotel that we viewed from only a few feet away while stuck in the sand for hours. Finally, we were back on track and following the original plan. But my lack of attention to insure that we were on the correct path followed by Chuck's impulse to take the "easy" way to our hotel, cost us a lot of time and money and hindered our happy adventure together.
Proverbs 4:25-27 says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."
How often in our Christian walk do we look away from God? Sure, we know He has a planned path for us and are truly thrilled in anticipating eternity with Jesus, but sometimes Satan distracts us with attractive earthly scenery and selfish expectations and desires. We become so distracted that we stop focusing our full attention on God's Word - our map. Then, we slowly lose sight of where we should be and fall away from Christ's call. Before we know it, we find ourselves in the wrong place. The only way to get back to God is to stop, admit our mistake, turn from our sin, and change our course so that we are back on track seeking His way.
How often in our Christian walk do we try to take an alternate, easy route? Sure, we know our way is not the same as His instructed way, but we think we can get there on our own... so why not go for it? Then, before we can correct the mistake, we find ourselves knee-deep in unlevel ground, sinking from our sinful decision... STUCK! The only way out, is to call on God for help and let Him rescue us and take over correcting the mess we have made.
"The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come." ~Matthew Henry
"Listen, my son (daughter), accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. (Proverbs 4:10-15)
Let us be wise and follow God's Word.
Let's guard our hearts and focus on His ways rather than impulsively running in our own direction.
Let's not stumble or hamper our steps and waste precious time recovering from our own sinful mistakes.
Let's not get stuck in sin.
Rather let's protect ourselves from the ways of the wicked and set our feet on His solid, level ground.
This is our life... let's always seek Jesus with joy and perseverance as we strive to live it well.
The Time: NOW
The Place: HERE
The Occasion: LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS
The Participants: YOU
The Mission: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)
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