Two different paths


By Stan Counsell | PREVIEW Columnist

We sure live in a convoluted world, don’t we? Not since the Civil War has this nation been so shamefully divided. Even peace on our planet seems so out of reach. At one point in time, unsettling differences were covered with polite respect. Now, politically charged people often view dissimilarities as a threat to all things near and dear to them. Their blood boils, obscenities are thought, written or loudly proclaimed. Today, “You’re No. 1” is a common “salutation” given to one that dares to see things from a differing angle. 

Such scatological actions are part of our deep-seated fallen (sin) nature dating back to Adam’s choice to disobey God. Since then, inward corruption is part of the human condition. 

Without the Lord, we are but flotsam and jetsam adrift on the angry seas of life. King Solomon penned of such continual havoc in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Here, in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, he plainly declares, “There is nothing new under the sun.” That’s gut-wrenching; everything in humankind is a B-List rerun without an end. In Ecclesiastes 1:14, Solomon also scribed, the folly of “chasing after the wind.” On the surface, it seems like such a “downer” book to read. But, is it? Not at all.

When the Lord Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling all that was prophesied of Him as the world’s only Savior, He encountered many a wounded soul deeply in need of God’s intervention. They were without any hope in life, deeply distraught and downcast. But, being God in the flesh, nothing was new to Jesus. He wasn’t caught off guard or sucker punched. He didn’t need an angel to retrieve a current fix-it manual for His immediate use. 

Those in serious need were of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities, education, religion and degrees of health. Many of these tortured souls felt marginalized, neglected and shunned by society. Tragically, such despicable actions were also embedded in their religious settings. So, where was God in this never-ending mess? 

We are starting a new year. We see the need to better ourselves, our nation and the world. Yet, futility reigns as witnessed by the uncountable resolutions that are routinely made and soon broken. But, the Lord is just a sigh away. From the very beginning, He laid before us two paths from which to choose regarding our relationship with Him. 

One is the only path to Him. On that path we can fully immerse ourselves in His unending love, salvation, forgiveness, tenderness and unfathomable grace. The other path is unrestrained self, birthing unleashed depravity, void of Him by our own choice. The Lord wants to lead us to Himself through the proven/documented death, burial and resurrection of His son, Jesus. But, we continue to demand our own path because, after all, we know better, right? 

At the beginning of time Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, held little regard for God, presenting an insulting “get by/easy” sacrifice to the Lord. Abel, his younger brother, gave of his very best. Because the Lord only accepted Abel’s sacrifice, Cain plotted, and carried out, the violent murder of his younger brother.

Cain, according to Genesis 4:9-16, didn’t seek forgiveness but instead reacted somewhat snarkily toward God. Because of his actions, the Lord said he would be a wanderer on the earth. Cain, refusing to repent, also admitted such and tried to place some shameful blame on God, but not himself. 

When driven out of Eden, he settled in the land of Nod. Interesting, the word “Nod” meant “wandering.” When our thoughts and actions declare the choice is self, rather than the loving way of the Lord, we wander about much like a ship without an anchor.

Let’s examine the account of a blind man that was healed by Jesus. Mark 8:22-25 records a blind man in need of his sight. Some men urgently brought the man to Jesus. Like intercessory prayer, they called loudly for Jesus to touch the man. How profound: The Greek word “touch” meant “to grab ahold, set on fire.”

Look at Jesus’ love as He placed God’s path before the man. In verse 23, Jesus took the man’s hand. The word “took” is an eye-opener (no pun intended). It meant “to hold, rescue from peril.” One who wanders is in peril, unable to see the many hardships placed before them. 

The blind man looked down as Jesus prayed for him. His healing was but partial, now seeing a distorted view of the people around him. To Jesus, that wasn’t good enough. He wants us to see clearly on our path with Him. Psalm 119:105 reads, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Jesus made the man look intently at His face while He again prayed. This time, the man was fully healed. Do we look at Jesus the same way?

Jesus, in verse 26, sent the man home. Did you know the Greek word for “sent” meant “to dismiss in a state of liberty”? That’s right, Almighty God wants to set us free from our continual broken ways. Or, as John 8:32 records Jesus saying, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 

As a youth of 19, my life was a serious mess. Suicide seemed the only way out from my troubled life. I had no goals, friends, future or education. Then, I felt a strong urge to call out for God to save me, calling myself “mission impossible.”

He “took” me from my perils, held me tightly, setting me on spiritual fire. I had my first genuine taste of liberty. Jesus ultimately led me into the ministry as a pastor and chaplain for over 35 years.

Dear reader, if you are seeking genuine salvation, it can only come by way of Jesus Christ. If, as a follower of Jesus, you have lost your bearings, He wants to clearly speak the truth to you, love you, and set you free. OK, He’s waiting. 

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