Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two paths

When Dr. William Willimon was Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, he got a call from an upset parent, a VERY upset parent. "I hold you personally responsible for this," he said.

"Me?" Dr. Willimon asked.

The father was hot, upset because his graduate school-bound daughter had just informed him that she was going to chuck it all ("throw it all away" was the way the father described it) and go do mission work with the Presbyterians in Haiti. "Isn't that absurd!" shouted the father. "A BS degree in mechanical engineering from Duke and she's going to dig ditches in Haiti."

"Well, I doubt that she's received much training in the Engineering Department for that kind of work, but she's probably a fast learner and will probably get the hang of ditch-digging in a few months," Dr. Willimon said.

"Look," said the father, "this is no laughing matter. You are completely irresponsible to have encouraged her to do this. I hold you personally responsible," he said.

As the conversation went on, Dr. Willimon pointed out that the well-meaning but obviously unprepared parents were the ones who had started this ball rolling. THEY were the ones who had her baptized, read Bible stories to her, took her to Sunday School, let her go with the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship to ski in Vail. Dr. Willimon said, "You're the one who introduced her to Jesus, not me."

"But all we ever wanted her to be was a Presbyterian," said the father, meekly.

This is what happens when we get too comfortable and forget that we are following Jesus, not our “religion”. This Christian experience is not about what denomination we are, it is about being sold out to Christ. In that, He may ask us to do many things that lead us out of our complacency, and into an unknown world where we follow Him, not rules.

Please do not misunderstand; submitting to God’s will for our lives is not complete anarchy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is complete peace that we live in when we are doing the will of the Master.

Many times in our journey we may be content in our Christian lives, and happy with the way we worship, but unfulfilled in our spirits because we are not living and worshiping Him in the way God wants. However, we may find ourselves in uncomfortable and possibly downright dangerous circumstances, but are able to feel God’s peace because we are listening to Him, and following blindly.

The old story of the man who visited the jungle is a good illustration of this. A man was trudging through the jungle with a guide. The plant growth was beautiful, but thick. The guide was using a machete to get through the growth. The visitor said, “Where is the path?”
The guide replied, “I am the path.”

We have two choices. We can follow the well worn-path of religious law and ritual that Christ proved was a path that always leads to bondage and guilt. The other choice is to follow Christ blindly, where we cannot even take a step without following in His footprints. We then become completely dependant on Him. He becomes our “path”.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

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