Down many paths we travel in a lifetime by Roy N. Martin

ImageDuring my lifetime, many Biblical passages have guided me. Some have become so much a part of my thoughts that they often surface to give insight into a particular situation. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 is one such passage. This passage is near the end of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. It represents Moses’ final words to the people of Israel, where he interprets God’s will for them. The image I carry in my mind is more personal but which is consistent with the message to that ancient people. This week of Advent, I want to share my personal reflections.

In verse 15, God speaks: “.. .today … I have set before you life and death…”

Yes, today there are two paths I might follow.

God’s message is always present, for “today” is always with me. No matter how hard I might try, I cannot escape the meaning of these words. They speak to me on all past “todays.” Every “today” in the future God’s message will again challenge me.

Yes, today there are two paths I might follow.

The two paths may be interpreted in ultimate terms, the culmination of one’s sojourn, “Life and Death” with capital letters. I prefer to think of these words as referring to various paths we pursue. Consequently, my journey may consist of actions which affirm blessings in others and in myself, the paths of life. Or my actions may lead to adversity for myself and for others who are affected by my actions, the paths of death.

What actions mark the paths of life and what actions mark the paths of death are known to me, through God’s continuous messages to me throughout history, as recorded in the Bible, in the life of Jesus whom we know as the Christ, and in the living testaments of fellow travelers who have heard the same message.

Yes, today there are two paths I might follow.

God gives me the choice to make. Having provided all the data I need, God permits me to choose how I shall turn. On most days the choice is easy and does not require much thought, for I am traveling familiar territory. I trust past decisions to be sufficient for me to choose the paths of life. On some days, I must evaluate past decisions to determine whether the circumstances under which they were made still exist or whether new circumstances suggest alternate paths of life. And then there are those days, thankfully infrequent, when I am confronted with a situation which calls for painful choice-making, guided by long hours of reflection and prayer. And there are times when I am confronted with realization that I have been on a wrong path, and need to change.

No matter the circumstance, the choice is mine to make, and clearly it is my choice.

And God continues in verse 19: “Choose life…”

While I am free to choose the path I will take, I do so with full knowledge and faith that God has clearly defined what I am to do. Divine Concern cares whether I make the right choice. Divine Wisdom understands that I, a human with limited knowledge, will make wrong choices. Divine Grace forgives my transgressions, providing opportunities to return to the path of life.

Divine Love etches that Concern, that Wisdom, that Grace in my life, and in all of your lives, through the Life of him whom we call Jesus the Christ.

5 thoughts on “Down many paths we travel in a lifetime by Roy N. Martin

  1. One of my all time favorite poems was Frost’s “I chose the one less traveled by,” and that is not only because of my own choices and experiences in life, but even more so when applied to others in my family. My brother George was called to ministry early and had so many rough patches in his life yet continued to veer toward a path that led toward God’s work for him, and that is abundant life. And his wonderful wife, Jane, traveled those paths with George, so she too chose paths that were not easy for her, but in the end was blessed with experiences and memories that led to her creative writing of 11 books and that too is abundant life. We all face death in the end, but I prefer to walk into the arms of Jesus and have him say “well done, faithful servant.”

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