Today at church our Pastor described "The Principle of The Path". Simply put... the Principle of the Path is that direction, not intention, determines destination. Proverbs 7:6-27 describes a young man who is lured down the path of doom by a woman whose intent for him was not good. In the end... by following this path, the young man met his demise. The proverb ends... "Now my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain aer a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading to the chambers of death."
The "her" that is being spoken of in Proverbs is obviously a woman whose intent is to harm, however in our own lives there is a "her". It may be food, drugs, alcohol, lying, depression, jealousy... whatever the "her" is.... we don't want to go down that path.....because the further down the path we go... the closer we get to death... either physical death.... or death of your spirit. This relates to the Path Principle because we can't expect to walk down the path of overeating and expect to be fit... or the path of laziness and expect to have a clean house (unless you have someone else clean it and that is a whole different story lol!).
A 19 year old young man walks down the path of pot, partying, and women...he wanders the path further and starts to fail in school....further still and he starts selling pot on the side.... a little further still and he is addicted/dealing.... a bit more and he is in jail.... once out- dealing more... deeper still beats his ex-....misses court....winds up in jail again...This young man did not start out seeing himself as a drug dealing, girl-friend beating, drug addict.... but that is where the path has taken him. If he continues down this path... as Proverbs says....he will be "on a highway to the grave, leading to the chambers of death" rather than on a path to a career...a family... a future.
Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Our North First Street friends did not necessarily start out saying, "Wow.. I can't wait to grow up so that I can live by the river, on the street, or out of a hotel room...living day to day in the same clothes that I have worn for the last month," but for whatever reason... that is where the path has taken them. You can see this so well when you see the 20 something guy with braces on his teeth- the brackets are still cemented on, but he has removed the wire- (Someone once paid for him to have braces, but then along the way he made decisions that separated him from them- he did not ever return so he did not continue seeing the orthodontist), therefore he has brackets cemented on his teeth as he stands in line- waiting for something to eat to help with ease the ache in his body from the drugs that he has to have so often through his day. The drugs help keep him warm, but not warm enough to stop the cold from cutting through his clothes.
Old Carolina, as we call him, sings country songs to us with the most beautiful voice. His eyes are clear some days and others he can barely focus on you because of the alcohol flowing through his veins. With a voice like his... he must have at one time had dreams of being a singer.... some kind of dreams... certainly not dreams of napping in the empty lot, next to the cement building, on the frozen ground, breathing in the 29 degree air, but that is where the path that he took led him to.
And what about the young mother with three small children. I am certain that after the birth of her first beautiful girl that she thought he would stop beating her. Surely by giving him a child he would be happier. But the beatings didn't stop... next came the birth of her son... a son! A nice healthy boy to carry on the family name... now he will stop, but the path that she was on did not lead to a happy home with sweet babies snuggled up next to her. Instead it lead to sweet babies crying at her feet because daddy wouldn't stop yelling and hitting mommy.
The awesome thing with God is that he is a "Path Changer" and a "Way Maker". God can turn any path from destruction to life. He gives people the hope and the strength to turn the titanic around. The young mother with three small children finds strength from God to leave the man who abuses her and seeks a life filled with hope for her kids. God turns people from the paths of destruction to the path of life every day... He just waits for us to call out for help. God is a gentleman. He will never force His way on anyone... but He will be there to respond as soon as the person is ready to "turn the ship around."
On days like today when the food line was so long... we see a lot of people who are on different paths. Some are paths of destruction, but some are making changes, some slight...some a little larger than that... but they are changes. Today one of the hard core meth addicts/drug dealers asked me to pray with him. About a month ago the Lord put it on my heart to ask if he knew the Lord and if he knew whether he knew where he was going when he passed. He said that he did know the Lord and that his father was a pastor. You would never know it looking at him. Most of his teeth are gone, he has sores all over from the drugs, his eyes are usually glazed, and he is strung out. I was so glad that he wanted prayer. Next week he has to have surgery and he is afraid- very understandable. To most-it is a small change in the direction of his path...but for him- it is huge for him to turn towards God in his time of need.
I can't direct or redirect any one's path by myself, but when I team with other people who have a love for others... and we follow Jesus' lead....then we have a chance...and a chance that I want to take. (If you ever saw the movie "Dumb and Dumber" you might remember the scene when Jim Carrey is asking the pretty lady out..."So your saying I've got a chance!!!" lol!) (Sorry- I digress...talking about staying on the path..."Squirrel!"...and I'm off the path and chasing it up the tree!) But..as I was saying with God..anyone can turn their path around. God is life, love, hope, joy, peace...God is "The Way Maker!!"
God has us on a path right now that is very fulfilling. We handed out just over 150 pounds of ham, 20 pans of cheesy potatoes, sweet potatoes, cookies, oranges, and apples. We had coffee, hot chocolate, and "Jones Juice" (as they call it down there :0) If you are diabetic...stay clear!). Faithful volunteers withstood the cold and the snow. They served our North First Street Friends with joy, integrity, and respect. They worked as a team and brought warm clothes, good food, and hope to a line of people that didn't slow down for an hour and a half. Somewhere along the way, I am certain that God is in the process of changing some paths...
Thank You Jesus for being the "Way Maker", "The Path Changer", "Our Hope, Joy, and Peace". Thank You for being our Savior, Our God, Our Future, Our Reason To Live!! We Love You Lord Jesus!!!