We stayed at a vacation rental near Lake Michigan one winter. It was a small, charming house with beach access and limited views of the lake. We arrived at night. The next morning we were surprised to discover there were paths all around us.* A few feet from the long driveway that led us to the house, was another long tree lined path to the road. There was also a walking path on either side of the house that led to the lake. Adjacent to the walking paths were driveways for the neighboring homes, marking yet another pathway.
This time of year all of life’s paths seem a bit more hopeful. Perhaps you did not like the path you are on last year. Perhaps you are looking ahead, wondering which path you should take this year? Which job path is right for you? Which school? Which town should be your home? Which group or activity should you commit to? Which person should you partner with in business or in life? How often do we need guidance? How often do we wish there was a clear sign so we would know which path to take?
As one who is a bit directionally challenged, this is something I have some experience with. I remember needing to pick up my daughter after an event one evening a couple years ago. I had the address and Siri guided me there. I was feeling good about it as I had arrived a little early. You never know how things will go when trying to find a new place. In a little while, I started to wonder. The time had passed when she was scheduled to be done. Suddenly my phone rang. It was my daughter wondering where I was. She was outside waiting for me. It turns out Siri had led me to the wrong place. My daughter was a couple blocks away from where I was parked.
In finding our way, the important thing is often less about receiving guidance and more about who is guiding you. Siri can lead you to the wrong place. You may wander down a path that leads to nowhere but a trained, trustworthy guide can help you find your way. Often the key is not which path you choose but who’s your guide. We need more than someone to tell us the way, we need someone who knows the way whom we can follow.
As we begin a new year, I want to point you to a guide you can trust. On the threshold of a new beginning, after Jesus had died, at Pentecost, Peter gave a speech to help point a crowd of new believers in the right direction. He said, " I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken …You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” (Acts 2:28)
With God as our guide, all paths will lead to something good. Even if you meandered off into a rough patch last year, this year can be different. The benefit of having a trustworthy guide is that it can give you a sense of confidence. You don’t have to worry so much about the path you are on. With the right guide, your path will turn out well.
C.S. Lewis explains it this way in one of his novels: “The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths — but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.” **
One of my favorite Psalms is number 25. It is filled with guidance. Here David tells us “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” When God is our guide, it does not matter if we are going through a dark valley or a green pasture. It doesn’t even matter if we get lost along the way. We can begin again. We can keep going because, as Lewis said, the going itself is the path. God can hold all things together and make all things work together for good. All his paths are good. That doesn’t mean the way is easy. It does mean that God will lead us through. We just need to keep following him.
* The photo is an image of one the paths.
** C.S. Lewis, Perelandra