Stay Off the Sidewalk!

Yesterday I posted about our wonderful after-Thanksgiving hike with 20+ friends from our church. Believe it or not the residual afterglow of that hike is still hanging with me. It was just the most fun I've had in a while! (Some of you are probably really feeling sorry for me right now, thinking that if a group hike can make my top 5 list that easily I must be hard up for fun. Nah, I'm just really easy to please. All it takes for me to have a great time is fun people, a lot of laughter, and nice weather so I don't have to sweat. And the sweat thing is optional!)

But, despite the occasional chuckle I'm still getting out of Saturday's memories, I'm heading in a different direction today. After writing about the need to "do the trail with others" yesterday by connecting with a local church, I got to thinking about the concept of other people on the trail.

Have you ever been to a state or national park and gone on a "hiking trail" that ended up being nothing more than a sidewalk with trees on either side? My friend Kim and I walked such a trail at the Grand Canyon last year. Good thing too, we certainly weren't dressed for a real hike!

(This pic wasn't actually taken at the "sidewalk trail", but it's that same day. My battery died before we got to the canyon - can you believe that!?!)

At any rate, the sidewalk trail we took along the southern perimeter of the Grand Canyon was indeed beautiful. You can't hardly go wrong with woods on one side and the Grand Canyon on the other. And there was snow all around to boot! But here's the thing. That trail was kind of crowded.

Granted it was February and cold so there weren't nearly as many people on this trail as you might find on, say, July 3rd. But even on this obscure winter day with ice and snow covering the path and no sun in the sky, we encountered person after person on this trail.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." He described a path that is less traveled but oh so much more desirable than the sidewalk trails that most people stick to.

Let's consider what kind of path we're on. Am I on a sidewalk trail where "there are many" others walking with me? Or am I off the beaten path, on a trail found by few?

While the sidewalk path may serve a purpose at the Grand Canyon, it's not the trail for those following after Jesus. The sidewalk path may be more easy to navigate, may be filled with friendly folks, and might even have enticing conveniences like water fountains along the way, but it's not the road that leads to life everlasting. The sidewalk path eventually ends, you see, and Jesus says its destination is destruction.

So how do you know what path you're on? Just look around you. How crowded is it? You see, as much as we'd like to think that everyone's on a path to heaven (even if it be their own individually designed path), that just isn't true. Jesus said there's only one way to heaven and He's it. According to Him, not many will choose to follow Him and there will be few on this narrow trail.

Yesterday I urged us all to link up with a local church family so we wouldn't be traveling alone. Remember, no lone rangers! But the truth is we shouldn't be on a crowded trail either. While most people are sticking to the sidewalk trail, we need to be off the beaten path.

So, if your life looks like everyone else's, if your life is heading in the same direction as everyone else's and if your life is on such a trail of ease that, looking down, you realize you're actually on a sidewalk trail, oops. Wrong trail.

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