“There’s a big difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus, The Matrix.
I’ll begin today’s post with that line from The Matrix simply because that is my subject, walking the path versus knowing the path. I was originally going to write a whole post on the spiritual profundity of that film, but my draft was getting bogged down and, after a couple of days of thought, I decided to focus on this one statement, which for me was so important. Because there is a huge difference between walking the path and knowing the path.
First let me define what “the path” really means, and if this little digression seems unnecessary to you please bear with me as I try to keep my thoughts in order. This path is the path of belief, the often convoluted and barely recognizable spiritual path that lies at the feet of each and every one of us. When we arrive at the point of faith in God and the Christ, the courses our path can take narrows, or at least it should, into a number of possible routes. This path is rarely ever the same for any two of us, and for one person to try to tell another “this is your path” is an impossible act; only God can reveal your path.
Many of us who come to the faith think we see our path when we are only seeing what we think our path should be. When I first came to faith almost thirty years ago I thought that my path was to get a degree in comparative religions and work at debunking the claims of the numerous false belief systems out there. That didn’t get very far. I thought that maybe I was to be an evangelist leading others to faith, but while I did lead some to belief I didn’t get very far in that either. The point to all of that is that I wasn’t asking God to show me my path and lead me down it, I was in effect telling Him what I thought my path should be; I was listening to my own counsel and not God’s. Finally, during a very difficult time in my life around twelve years ago, I gave up on walking the path as I saw it and asked God to show me which way to go, and the results were startling and profound.
Each person’s path wanders through this vale of tears on a different course but all, in the end, lead us to our Lord. (Be advised that I am excluding the various paths laid out through different religions; I am speaking of the paths laid at the feet of Christians.) Some paths lead to being ministers and evangelists, while others lead people toward helping ease the burdens of disease and poverty of those around them. Some paths lead to music, some to teaching, some to humbly serving through manual labor, some to serving as prophets, and some lead to being watchmen on the walls, warning people of things to come. My path, which isn’t always an easy one, is actually unimportant to what I am writing about today and therefore I will leave it to remain between God and I. What is important is the recognition that one person’s path is probably not the same as another’s, nor should it be – we all are meant to serve God in the way that He wants us to, not the way that our society or even congregation thinks we should.
How do you recognize your path? That’s an excellent question and one which I cannot answer for you. Just as each believer’s path is different, so are the ways that your path is revealed to you. I would say that the most important element in finding your path is through a lot of prayer and listening for God to speak to you in one way or another. But when you do discover your path, it will feel right and you will know that it’s true. Will you like it? I won’t deceive you by saying yes; even Jesus asked that if it was God’s will the cup of crucifixion might be removed from Him. Some paths are less intimidating than others, but we must remember that whichever one God reveals to you He will be with you every step of the way.
To finally get to my point of the vast difference between knowing the path and walking the path, it can be compared to taking a right turn instead of a left. Seeing what path is laid at your feet is merely preparatory to actually walking that path. I’m sorry to say that many people become like Jonah, whose path was so clearly laid out for him but he was afraid and tried to run away; I know because I did this myself, a couple of times. But ultimately you will be brought to the point where you must either take that first step or fall out of line with God’s purpose for you, and that is a sad state to be in. As I said, a lot of the things that God wants us to do in our service to Him are pretty intimidating, and sometimes they will lead you through dark and dangerous places where God needs an obedient servant more than anything. Once you take those first steps you will begin to see God at work all around you, and through persistent obedience to your calling you will see many wonderous and beautiful things happening. And don’t worry about failing to fulfill His purpose…once you are walking the path He will sustain you and guide you, and all you have to do is keep praying and following His lead.
So take those first steps of faith and start walking the path that God has laid before you. As that wise old hobbit Bilbo Baggins once said, once you start down that road you never know where you’ll end up. That is especially true of walking God’s path for you…you just may find yourself going places and doing things that you never dreamed of.
Peace and blessings to you all.