Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Path Less Traveled

I love trail running. It excites me in a way that road running or track simply cannot. Trail running asks you to make your way back to the place you started following a single path that is always changing. Something about that appeals to me.

I've been reading more about the idea of a path or a way recently. An an Asian Studies major at Furman University (Go Paladins!) I studied many Eastern philosophical ideas that included concepts of a way. Most notably, the Dao De Jing speaks of how all things in the universe are connected to the Dao (way). It also heavily discusses the idea of Way-making.

As I understand it from the Dao De Jing, Way-making is something like living a just or righteous life. A life lived in the Way is a life lived in accordance with the laws of the universe. One of the central ideas is that one should have respect for everything (and I mean everything) in the world because all things are interconnect and depended on one another. There is no secret to Way-making; no step-by-step guide or score card to prove your Way-making worth. It's an intangible ideal at which to grasp.

There is a similar idea in the Christian faith largely based on the idea of righteousness. Christians are called to seek God's will in every decision in their pursuit for righteous action. Many people stress over major life decisions in fear that making the wrong choice will permanently move them off the righteous track and place them on the non-righteous or less-than-optimal righteous track. In this mindset, Christian Way-making, if you will, depends on each and every decision you make being the most righteous one available.

Pastor Ken Wytsma (a new favorite of mine) has taught on decision making and the will of God through Proverbs. After listening to his sermons, I realized that the commonly held belief  that righteous living can rest on any one decision, even a major one, seems at odds with the way God operates. Ken's teaching helped me see that God's view of righteousness is most likely more about staying on a righteous path than taking every single righteous step possible. Just like in trail running, the point is to get to the end, not to take every correct step as you move down the path. Trying to do that would be insane! Yet, that's pretty much what we are trying to do in stressing about every decision we have to make.

Christ's sacrifice paid for all of our sins, forever. His sacrifice protects us from God's wrath no matter how many missteps we made in our trek towards righteousness.The only turn we have to ensure that we make is to repent (Repent is a translation of shuwb; a Hebrew word meaning "to turn back") towards Christ. Once that turn is surely made, if you stay on a courses headed towards Christ, no one step can derail you.

Stop stressing, enjoy the views around you and focus on getting home in one piece.