Keep the Paths of Righteousness Open, for His Name’s Sake

English: Back Walk, Wymondham. Looking east al...

“The way to keep a path open is to walk on it”. When you first read this proverb, like many of them (including some in the Book of Proverbs) it seems obvious and not very deep. Of course the way to keep a path open is to walk on it – what’s so significant about that? The significance is not in the statement of fact, but in our reaction to it – from our thoughts on what it means in relation to our lives.

When I first heard this, I thought of a path through tall grass along the edge of a lake. Here and there the path veers off to a clear fishing spot on the bank. Over time if you don’t walk on it and keep it open, it will become covered with grass, weeds and thorns. At some point, trees can even start covering up the clear spots.

Several other “paths” in life came to mind:  The path between me and God; The path between me and my wife and family; The path between my house and the Church; The path between me and my Brothers and Sisters in Christ; The path of service; The path of obedience; The paths of righteousness.

All of these paths must be travelled constantly to keep them open. If we neglect them they can become covered in weeds and thorns, making them more difficult to walk. If we neglect them too long we may find that trees have grown up and obscured the paths completely.

The mention of the “paths of righteousness” is meant to bring to mind the 23rd Psalm: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (v3). I believe that tells us why we are to continue walking these paths to keep them open. Not just because they’re “good” things to do, but we are to keep them open for God’s name’s sake. All that we do should bring glory to God. Allowing weeds, thorns and trees to cover a path we should be walking doesn’t bring glory to Him, especially if it is the path between us and God.

The Path of No Regrets

US Navy 050709-N-0000X-001 Satellite image tak...

US Navy satellite image of Hurricane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tropical Storm Debby passed close enough to our area this week to be a reminder that hurricane season is here. It was interesting that early in the process the various computer-forecasting models didn’t agree. Some predicted the storm would head west to Texas, some said it would hit Florida, and one had it wobbling around in a loop in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

That reminded me of a television show about hurricane forecasting. In one segment, a forecaster described the process of recommending when, where and to what level to have coastal evacuations when a hurricane approaches. The uncertainty of the path (especially if the models disagree), and varying strength of the storm several days out, can make it difficult to determine what to do. Waiting too long may not leave enough time for the people to leave and can be disastrous. It can have that same result if a weak storm suddenly jumps up a couple of categories in strength just before it hits land.

Calling for an evacuation only to have the hurricane go elsewhere or fizzle out makes for unnecessary disruption, costs money and leaves many frustrated and angry people. It also increases the tendency to disregard the next call for evacuation – which may be the storm that does hit at full force.

With all that variability, what did he say they strive for?

“We want to take the path of least regret.”

That sounds like no matter which choice they make there will be some regret. Even if an evacuation is called and the storm hits as predicted, there are probably still some thoughts that it should have been a smaller (or larger) evacuation. On the other side, it’s clear that not calling an evacuation and having a strong storm hit an area is the worst possible outcome with much regret.

As Christians, we also make choices on the paths we take. Hopefully, we don’t use the “least regret” philosophy, but strive to follow God’s path for our lives. (“Show me your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths.” Psalms 25:4 NKJV).

That doesn’t mean God’s path for us will always be straight and easy. In some ways, it may be harder than taking our own path – but choosing our own path is guaranteed to have regrets.

The Lord speaks in a wonderful assurance verse in Isaiah that relates to the paths we follow:

I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 NKJV.

God’s paths can make us struggle at times – and sometimes they’re meant to. We may blindly struggle in the darkness (remembering we all were once spiritually blind and in darkness) but as we trust in God, the light becomes clearer. As we follow Him where we’ve never been, we notice the crooked ways straightening out. And, as we reach the end of a journey and look back, while we may have some regrets of our own missteps, we can see God’s faithfulness. He has truly done what He said and has not forsaken us. Then we can praise His Name, and declare “Thank you, Lord. I have no regrets for following You!”