The GPS had not been invented yet. We used road maps, or someone’s barn, or maybe an unusual tree to direct us. Where I grew up in rural New York, many dirt roads still existed along with family farms. I imagine the roads originally followed old cow paths, deer trails, and possibly Native American footpaths through the woods.
Some of those country roads are still dirt, and it’s easy to take a wrong turn and end up where we didn’t expect to be, like in a maze. Most of them aren’t on a map, and a GPS can misdirect us.
Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” reminds me of those country roads. Which road we take makes “all the difference.”
Daily we’re faced with choices: to eat cereal or eggs for breakfast; to wear dress or casual clothes; to go to college or get a job; to marry or be single. Some choices have greater impact on our lives than others. But our choices will influence the direction we follow in life.
In Matthew 7:13,14, Jesus describes two gates and two ways: the wide one, followed by many, leading to destruction, and the narrow one, less traveled, leading to life.
The choice with the greatest impact on anyone’s life is the choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. When we say yes to Jesus, we enter the narrow gate to salvation from sin’s punishment and follow God’s way of eternal life and obedience to God. (Romans 6:23)
Each believer has God’s Holy Spirit living within (John 15:5-15; Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 4:13). In Galatians chapter five, Paul tells Christ’s followers to “walk in the Spirit.” We walk in the Spirit when we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. We conduct our lives in obedience to God’s Word, abiding in Christ as a branch attached to a vine or tree. A branch severed from a tree will die and be fritless. Without Christ we cannot bear fruit to glorify God. (John 15:1-6)
Two walks, two ways to conduct one’s life. Without Christ, a person follows his or her own “want-to” instead of God’s way. The works of the flesh are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Following natural desires leads to choices that are destructive and morally barren, i.e., sexual immorality, selfishness, murder, envy, drunkenness, etc. Those who belong to Christ have the Holy Spirit to help overcome these evil passions. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit are produced: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Even though I have chosen God’s way by receiving Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I’m not perfect. I’m influenced by the sin around me and my natural want-to’s. At times I produce anger, impatience, unkindness, and selfishness. God wants me to own up to my sin. When I confess, I’m forgiven and made right with God because I belong to Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:9). If I’ve offended another person, I must apologize and ask forgiveness.
Through prayer and Bible study, I’m still growing and learning. The Holy Spirit within me produces fruit to glorify God and show I belong to Christ.
(coming July 2022)