“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
“Castaway” starring Tom Hanks, is one of my favourite movies, providing a lot of thought provoking ideas about the nature of time and chance, love and commitment; even the wild desire many of us harbour to escape the rat race to an uninhabited tropical island. The movie ends with the main character standing in the middle of the intersection of two roads, trying to determine which one he will take, and we, the viewers are left to imagine the continuation of his life story. We have a sense that the choice he makes at this point will affect his future, so the roads represent far more than their physical presence, but are a visual metaphor.
Similarly, we all make choices throughout our lives that impact our future and wellbeing, and that of others. The Old Testament book of the prophet Jeremiah includes many chapters where blessings and warnings are juxtaposed. Follow God’s rules, walk in His paths, and you will know the blessing of His presence, the salvation of His Son Jesus and the comfort and guidance of His Holy Spirit. Turn away from God, make up your own rules, let popular culture by your guide and there is no reason to expect God’s blessings. Like any loving parent, even more so, God imposes rules and boundaries and consequences for ignoring or flouting them.
When we stand at the crossroads, some decisions are simple ones. Others are not clear cut. Some decisions clearly disobey God’s directions in the Bible. Others may provide alternatives which are all possibilities in themselves. Some decisions are easy, some very hard and painful.
Should I apply for university or look for employment?
Do I take that job offer with the high salary, or pursue the ministry studies I’ve considered?
Should I date the man who is so attentive, even if he’s not a Christian?
There’s no harm in a married man having a coffee alone with a female workmate is there?
Do I press the “enter” button, or the “close window” button?
We’ve grown apart. Should we divorce?
The Bible tells us of the alternative roads in life that we can choose to be on:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13,14)
In other words, don’t follow the crowd. Even if everyone else is comfortable with some course of action, even Christians that you know, if you don’t think it lines up with scripture, don’t go there. So many people whose lives are in a mess can, in hindsight, remember a point when they could have walked away down that narrow path.
How do we take the right road when we come to life’s major intersections? As Jeremiah states in the verses above- ask. Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us
“...whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22). This is not an invitation to take a shopping list of material things to God, but rather affirmation that when we long for things which He desires, He will respond. When we ask Him for direction as to His will in the decisions that we are making, He will give us that direction.
One of my favourite Bible verses is John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The devil wants to take away your relationship with God and other people, to steal your joy and purpose, your very life if he can. But praise God, the devil is forever defeated through Christ Jesus our Saviour. Commit your life to Christ and it will be the fullest, most worthwhile life you could ever hope for, both in this world and for eternity to come.