Sunday, November 15, 2009

Potential

A young man stood at an open area, looking at the two paths lying ahead.  He stood there, pondering his direction, holding off a decision until the last possible moment.   A wide, well worn track lay to one side.  He could see how it was fairly flat or most of the way, or at least appeared to be, from where he was standing.  There were signs planted along the way that were bright and easy to read.  They held a variety of messages: Just Be Nice and You’ll be Okay; Have it Your Way along This Way; The Easy Road.  Many people were walking on to this roadway.  They would pass under the banner that reads – the Life Road, Now in Highway Form.  They all looked okay; the young man couldn’t see anything really bad happening to him from where he stood. 
The young man now let his gaze wander the other direction and saw a narrow footpath leading past a sign that said, The Narrow Way – The Way of Truth.  He couldn’t see much past that gate, it took a twist amongst the trees and was lost from his view.  Some people were going that way, but it didn’t look as if it were a path that was as well traveled. 
Standing at the opening of the two paths, the young man stood and stood, shifting his weight back from one foot to another – first leaning one direction and then the other.  Helpers came along and encouraged him to take one path or the other, but in the end it was his decision.  And the young man started realizing that not only was it his decision to make as to which path to take, but what the consequences would be that followed that choice. 
A salesman came and told the young man that he would have to make a decision soon, here are some travel brochures that can provide you with information about your journey – would you just look at those beautiful pictures!  But the young man knew that the salesman could not force him down one road or another.  It was his decision, but which to choose?  The choice was paralyzing and difficulty – maybe no choice would be better than the wrong one.   A friend came and stood with the young man for a while, but finally became impatient and took the road of their choosing.  What if, the words clouded in his mind, what if I go the wrong way?  What do I do then?  Maybe I should just stand here, it seems easier, safer.   A teacher came by and told the young man the known history of the two roads.  It was all interesting, but didn’t really make the decision any easier.  The teacher, after imparting his knowledge, left the pupil and made his own individual choice and entered a road.  Standing there the young man felt mired and stuck.  Did he have the skills required to make his way on that path that was less traveled?  The ground looked like it was going to be a quite a climb up and down some hills, most likely that path was going to follow that.  The other road looked like it was better, easier, but there was something about it which gave him some misgivings.  It just seemed too easy; surely there would be unmarked pitfalls up ahead.  A coach stopped and tried to give the young man practice exercises which might help him feel prepared for either road.  The young man tried to follow the exercises, but felt a little silly doing calisthenics while everyone else just walked past. 
Then the young man felt another stop beside him, seeing a shadow of another traveler stopping.  Expecting a new lecture or some other type of gadget, task, or exercise – the young man tensed and asked who it was that belonged to that shadow.  The one who had stopped looked over and said simply – I’m here to shepherd you, to be your guide.  You can take that narrow path and you will not walk it alone.  I will go before you in every step.  I can wait here with you until you make a decision, but the decision is yours and it must be made.  
I have seen someone stop at that waiting area, holding off making a decision until the last possible moment.  And the potential that the individual carried was being wasted, just sitting there – not being used.  One path, easy it seems but with unmarked pitfalls along the way.  And the farther you got along the road, the more you would realize that it was just taking you in circles.  The other path, it was well marked with caution signs, signs of encouragement, signs showing resources.  But it did follow a much rougher route through valleys and up steep mountains.  The choice made the difference in his life, marking out the way it would go.  I’ve had to make that decision myself, choosing my own path.  It’s not always easy and I think at times I have to wipe the tears from the signs so I can read them more carefully.  But, the view from the mountain tops – it cannot be paralleled with anything else. 
And which way did the young man go?    That was his decision and he took a step and then another through a gate and onto a path. I'm coming back from the Great Banquet.  I can't wait to share with you the new paths that I will be waiting on God for.