“…for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
One time on a retreat in the mountains I went for a hike. Now, I had been hiking before, but this was the first time I had done any real hiking. All of what I had done before had been short hikes on trails that were well-maintained and about as obvious to follow as a sidewalk would have been. And wouldn’t you know it, on my first experiment with the real thing, I got lost.
The trail was marked by little reflectors nailed to trees or spray painted marks of the same color every few hundred feet; closer when the path wasn’t quite as clear as otherwise. For the first two-thirds of the trail, I managed to follow these markers pretty successfully. Every time I was just starting to get a little fearful I had accidentally drifted off track, there was the next one. And to top it all off, it was one of those perfect mountain autumn days. The temperature was perfect, the sky was totally clear, the leaves were at the peak of their color change. Everything was going right.
Then I came down a steep hill into a clearing with a mountain road running through it…and there were no more markers.
For all practical purposes I was lost. In theory I could have retraced my steps and made it back to camp, but that would have been most difficult and there was not a guarantee I would have made it back before dark. What I needed (besides a clear map leading back to camp), was someone who knew my path. I needed someone who had walked that path before and knew its contours, twists, and turns.
At some point, if I stayed where I was, a crew of folks who knew my path would have walked it, found me, and led me back home. What would have been a real disaster was if I had veered off course, whether by neglect or intent Then no one would have known my path and I would have been truly lost.
Have you made the connection yet? If we feel lost along the path of life, but are walking the path of God to the best of our ability and the Spirit’s lead–in other words, if we are walking a path of righteousness–then He will know our path. And if He knows our path, then we can always be found. He is always with us. He made the trail. He knows every square inch of it. When we are on the path He knows, we cannot be lost.
But, when we are walking a path of unrighteousness, a path of evil, a path He does not know (because it is separated from Him), then when we are lost, we are truly lost. That path ends in death. We will be on our own without anyone to find us. That doesn’t mean our faithful God won’t be searching and reaching, but we will have isolated ourselves from Him. That’s not a path anyone should want to walk. The thing is, He has shown us and given us a map for the path that He knows. We simply need to walk it.