In light of the ongoing discussion from Monday’s post (“Killed All the Day Long“), I would like to talk about the path less chosen.
The idea of facing violence with something other than violence sounds crazy. “An eye for an eye” is so ingrained in us that “turn the other cheek” verges on madness. We are told we must always be vigilant so that others do not take away from us those things we believe own, even though the Scriptures say that all is God’s, we are not our own, and to the one who asks for our shirt must go our cloak also. When asked to go one mile, why go two? Deny ourselves and take up a cross? How could any of that cloak-giving, cheek-turning, self-denying, and second-mile-going possibly profit us?
The older I get in the Lord, the more I understand that we humans are too often people who live at the poles of thought and practice. We think in terms of black and white, especially in the West (oddly enough, given the advanced education we Westerners have received). Attempting to see colors beyond those two is left for misty-eyed dreamers and ivory-towered philosophers. So rarely are we able to lay down our own pride and prejudices to step into the lives and minds of others, especially those whom we see as foes.
The problem of living in such a state is that we miss the path less chosen. The narrow path, by definition, is the one not often found. And it remains obscure because we do not have the mind of Christ, the mind that sees all things as they really are. For some of us, even when we do know the right way, our own willfulness and pride keep us from taking that narrow path.
A few weeks ago, I posted “A Dozen Sayings of Jesus That Will Change the World—If Christians Would Ever Believe Them.” Many of those sayings go unheeded because they ask us to move out of our extremes into a third way, which is Christ’s way. They put us on a narrow path that few take because the majority fails to understand how that path will lead anywhere useful. Such is the nature of our weak minds and hearts that we miss God’s way so readily.
For the rest of the week, I would like to open the conversation by asking a question of readers:
In what situations has Christ led you on a narrow path that was incomprehensible to others, even fellow believers, yet that choice led to major blessings?
21 thoughts on “The Path Less Chosen”
There are actually many ways that my attempt to be obedient to Christ’s teaching has led me down lonely paths but interestingly, the one that comes to mind is small, and increasingly infrequent. I thought of it after reading the last post because I struggle in my mind with the difference between a personal sacrifice and choosing a sacrifice that affects family and friends. I have no problem with turning the other cheek but I have a very deep inclination to protect others. I’m still thinking about that one.
But anyway, the parable of the good Samaritan always seemed obvious to me and so I have always stopped on the road to help people and to pick up hitchhikers–that is, when I have been by myself. When others are with me, I ask permission first, and usually the answer is that they prefer that I do not stop.
I remember one time in particular when my family was attending a church in a neighboring town. On a Sunday morning I picked up a hitchhiker and I’ll never forget what he said. He thanked my wife and I, looked at our Sunday clothes and said, “I didn’t think I would get a ride because most people are on their way to church”.
And even though I had picked him up, it pricked me to the core to know that he thought of Christians (or at least church goers) as the LEAST loving and caring group of people.
As far as blessings, I have come to think of all aspects of my life as being being a major blessing. I don’t know that any of the times I have stopped have made much of a difference for people but knowing how God works, they probably have.
As big as I am, even I’m leery of picking up hitchhikers.
Thanks for sharing. We needed someone to respond so I didn’t get just crickets on this post. Amazing that so few have responded. Is God not leading people in countercultural ways?
No, Dan, I think God is still leading people, I think it’s that we struggle to follow. I know that’s my story.
I can give one simple example. I’m a high school teacher by trade and have chosen to teach at a Christian School instead of staying the public school arena. In some ways it’s harder, in some it’s easier. For certain, it makes for a much tighter budget.
Yet, I get the chance to teach scriptural lessons every day – in physics and geometry classes. How cool is that? I get to interrupt a class on vector addition to teach redemption if a student has a question. Does “work” get any better than that?
Sounds good to me, Jonathan.
I think I am the opposite. Being in environments that are more dangerous to me as a Christian are more compelling than those that make Christianity safe. My biggest growth as a Christian came at secular Carnegie Mellon University, where being a Christian was looked down upon. My deadest point spiritually was when I was at a Christian college. That’s the reverse of how it is for some people, but I guess I like the challenge of skating on the edge.
Hopefully it is because “the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing” rather than “we like to talk more than we like to do.”
When I was a Junior in high school I was trying to get a summer job. I applied to two places, the Ohio Youth Conservation Corps and a church camp. I really wanted to work for the youth corps, but they delayed and delayed with the job offer. I finally gave up and accepted a job offer from the church camp. The job offer from the youth corps came two days later. The summer and the six following it at the church camp changed my life and is still effecting it to this day. Because of it, I avoided the temptation I would probably given into in the conservation corps and grew in my faith with the help of many young Christian friends, Dan included. It was not the path I wanted to take at the time, but it was the path Christ led me down. Praise him for his leadership in my life.
Thanks for sharing that and for reading this post. I hope you stick around and comment more often!
I’ve been in that same kind of situation too.
BTW, how did you end up in youth ministry? (Not like it’s not a logical progression from camp work….)
To make a long story not too long… Paula and I ended up in Kettering attending a congregation that suited us well. We were/are active and served on various committees and taught Sunday school and the like. We were regular volunteers for the youth program which was led by the assistant pastor. Both of our pastors left within a span of two months. Nothing bad happened, it was just God’s timing. We called one pastor to replace them both planning on hiring more staff after he was settled well.
After about a year, we called a guy to be our youth director. He stayed about nine months and decided to move on. I was asked to be on the call committee for his replacement. We went through the whole process and decided to call a young lady to come. After considering it, she turned us down, leaving us back at square one.
At this time I was a computer technician doing cable internet installs for Time Warner Cable. I enjoyed what I was doing and had no desire to do something else.
As we were restarting the call process, a prayerful lady in our congregation came up and told me she thought I would be a good person to be the youth director. I told her I had no interest in it and that I wished she hadn’t brought it up.
I really didn’t want to do it but I couldn’t shake the idea. God was working on me and I didn’t want to listen. I prayed and prayed over it and finally decided to put God to the test. I said I would do it if I knew for sure it was from him. I told him that if it was from him, I wanted verification from two more people. If I received that, I would apply for the job.
God accepted my test and didn’t strike me down for it! Within a week, two more God-fearing ladies came up to me and said EXACTLY the same thing the first lady did. (I didn’t challenge God to the exactly part, that was just him showing off.) He verified it was from himself and all I could do at that point was again follow where he led.
It was/is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve been blessed by it and I can only hope and pray that the congregation has been also.
What a great example for us, Donald. Thanks for sharing that story.
I believe God led me to quit my job. A month before the economy fell apart. Given today’s economic situations not even believers always think that was a good move. But it’s something I prayed about for a long time and was convinced that God was telling me I needed to make a move.
Of course I’m still unemployed. So that’s not so good. But what I’ve seen is the Kingdom rally around me in support. It’s forced me to grow new skills. And most importantly it’s caused me to trust God to a level I never dreamed of.
Sure I don’t have any regular income, and there’s no question each month gets harder. And I do have doubts from time to time (maybe it was just indigestion). But in all honesty I would make the same choice to follow God again.
I’ve been in similar situations. Some worked out great and were easy transitions, while others were excruciating. I pray yours is the easier kind. My own experiences show that they get harder, yet easier to understand within God’s wisdom, over time.
In what situations has Christ led you on a narrow path that was incomprehensible to others, even fellow believers, yet that choice led to major blessings?
Dan, 25 years ago with some study of church history and some Greek concerning the translated words “eternal” and “hell” I found I was worshiping a false God. I left the organized church with it’s fear-based traditions and doctrines of men and discovered a sovereign God called Love that at the consummation of time will have saved all creation from it’s fallen state.
Sin began to fall off my life as I rested in His love and allowed Christ to walk in me. I loved my neighbor and even my enemies. As a matter of fact I found I had no enemies as everything in my life was sovereignly appointed by God. I learned to kiss the hands of those that nailed me to the cross thus filling up the sufferings of Christ.
Today my life is blessed as I no longer walk in fear which once created in me much dead works and self righteousness not to mention the indwelling of hidden sin. Believe me I know the church goer of today and the symptoms I just related are in each of them. I spent ten years in organized religion or better said “hell.”
God bless and I can only pray someone will find their way to know and worship the One True God known as Love.
In His Sweet Lord Jesus,
“”All those millions of believers can’t be wrong so I believe the same. Oh, the folly!”
The cross for me over a 4 year period was this…
Spouse’s salary was cut in half
Had baby on the way
All bills stayed the same while salary was now half
Spouse then laid off job
Had to get on medicaid for birth of child
Spouse could not find work in Corporate culture
Spouse now becomes self employed…
Code for ‘painting houses’
The Lord through all this says to not say a word
We loose house
Parents offer us to buy house
We say thanks but no thanks…the Lord is our provider
Learn to live day by day on the Lords provision
The Lord then says to leave family and friends and FOLLOW HIM….leave the known to come into the unknown
EXTREMELY DIFFICULT….but oh the fruit that was BORN
THE FRUIT OF CHRIST
The cross is the TREE OF LIFE….it is the narrow place that brings forth the FRUIT from this tree…Christ in you the hope of glory.
Truly all of Father’s sons and daughters will journey into the wilderness where they will learn to live on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
The blessings that have come forth is that I now know what it means to be IN CHRIST….
In Him are hidden all the riches of wisdom and knowledge….for Christ is the wisdom and power of God.
In your case, what did “leaving the known to come into the unknown” look like?
Saying goodbye to mother and father…saying goodbye to precious christian sisters….saying goodbye to SELF…the old me…that was the KNOWN.
I now have journeyed into the unknown…of the Lord establishing me IN CHRIST…of BECOMING….of not doing….but just BEING.
The unknown is still that in many ways…every day is something new (and not always exciting either)…I am learning to wait on Him, to be content IN ALL THINGS…and this sometimes means being content when I don’t hear Him speak a word…truly it is more of an emptying place than anything…but to be established In Christ is to go through a time of topsy turvy…For in the Kingdom what is up is down and what is down is up….and so to be established is to be SHAKEN.
So my friend the unknown is like treasure hunting…I am finding rare jewels every day and these jewels are found in the most unlikely of places….
This quote I read recently sums it up for me “Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross. He hath many desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation. He findeth many companions of His table, but few of His abstinence. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to endure anything for Him, or with Him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion. Many reverence His miracles, few follow the ignominy of His cross.” –Thomas A Kempis
At this juncture of the ‘unknown’ journey it seems I am being made to know that I am a companion of His abstinence.
All is well….for I just want to be please Him and be with Him…and IN HIM.
All His love to you,
I decided long ago not to enter the corporate culture in favor of a life. In fact, the only times I felt really miserable was when I was trying to “make a living”. I can’t say how my life might have been different, but I can say that there are definitely worldly things that I have done without in order to be at peace. Deciding to spend 5 years overseas removed many financial opportunities, and made some people look rather odd at me. One person told me to my face that I was crazy, which encouraged me as I finally realized they understood what “living by faith” meant.
We live according to God’s timing and by His favor. It’s still a constant struggle between my will and His, but I can see His hand in my life, and recently, in the lives of others. It’s a thrill to see someone else receive blessings because I have been obedient. It’s like chocolate for the soul.
Following God; I have given up everything I own twice to go where He led me; I have married cross-culturally were people shook their heads and muttered “unwise”; we have left family and friends behind to move across the country to where we knew no one; we have left financial security behind in faith of His provision.
It’s not always easy, and frankly is not always a blessing “in my time”, and I don’t always feel “secure” in God’s hands. But that’s not a reflection on God, but rather on me.
That’s a tough call. That’s where I was early in my adulthood, when my Dad told me I’d be poor all my life because I was rejecting the business world (the same business world that eventually crushed my Dad to pieces).
I think that any kind of work that doesn’t look like your traditional 9-5 factory or cubicle job gets some odd comments from people. It blew me away that people didn’t think I worked because I worked from home and wrote. (Heck, last night I was working until about 1 a.m.) That my work affords me some other options that traditional office-based work does not is no reason to claim I’m not working. Nor does the ebb and flow of my work mean that I’m not making money either. I may not work Tuesday and Wednesday, then have to work Saturday and Sunday because a rush job came in at 5:55 p.m. on Friday (which actually happens a lot). Just ’cause someone’s job doesn’t look like yours is no reason to assume that someone isn’t busting his hump to put food on the table.
Be blessed. Trust me, I know what you’re feeling.
Might I enlist your prayers that God would open a door for me to do something similar to what you’re doing? I really want to work from home, but my ideas run in 900 directions and none of them is screaming, “That’s God!” If you get a minute to throw one up for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.
I prayed that God will make a way where there has been no way.
Truthfully, I would not advise starting your own business unless you have five years’ worth of savings or alternative income that you can fall back on during the startup time. I did, and that was what got us through the rough spots. I would also advise that you leverage as much of your home business as possible by thinking about running more than one business. I have a seasonal one (the orchard, which may produce for us this year after several years of waiting) and my year-round one (my writing & editing business).
That is wonderful Dan about your orchard!
May you be blessed with a BOUNTIFUL HARVEST this year.
All His love to you,
After four healthy years in the ground, all our trees took major damage last year from cicadas, fireblight, or a cherry tree disease that the Ohio State University agricultural lab was not able to identify. We lost a cherry and will probably lose the fireblighted pear and another cherry, which once was our biggest one. This year, we’re simply hoping that nothing else dies. A bountiful harvest would be wonderful, especially in the pears, which were stupendously tasty last year (in what was our test production year). Sadly, our remaining pear trees did not have a lot of blossoms this year, which means diminished fruit. We’re not sure why we had so few blossoms, as the remaining pear trees are all vigorous and healthy.
Thank you for your encouragement. Needless to say, for what happened to our trees (and for many other reasons), we’d like to forget 2008 and move on to a better year, which so far 2009 has been.