Choosing the Right Path
Text: Psalms 25
Title: Choosing the Right Path
Thesis: God helps us walk the path of discipleship
Time: Lent, 1 Sun, B
The way our American society works is we make all kinds of choices. We make choices from the brand of corn we buy at the grocery store, to the model of car or truck we drive, to the flavor of toothpaste we prefer. Walk into any fast food restaurant and it’s easy to see that as Americans, we like to make choices. Will it be the #1 or #9 meal; cheese or no cheese on the hamburger; small, medium, large or biggie size fries? I ate at Burger King for lunch yesterday. Does anyone recall Burger King’s slogan? It’s this, “Have it your way.” Burger King ensures that we can have it our way, the choice is ours to make when we go through their doors. I brought with me today the medium size cup I chose to fill with Dr. Pepper at lunch yesterday. Listen to the choice making suggestions Burger King puts on the side of their cups: “Maybe you want a lot of ice. Maybe you want no ice. Maybe you want your top securely fastened, or maybe you want to go topless. Maybe you want to mix Coke and Sprite. Maybe you want to let your cup runneth over (we wish you wouldn’t). Whatever you do, make sure to have it your way.”
Burger King might be on to something, all this advice about making choices. Especially, as they refer to Psalm 23, “maybe you want to let your cup runneth over.” For the book of Psalms is 150 chapters of advice in making good choices. The advice given goes even beyond what kind of soft drink to put in a cup. The choice making advice Psalms gives is that if we make the right choices, we will have a life running over with the abundance and blessings of God.
To help us make wise choices as to which path in life to follow, we look this morning at Psalm 25. The choice is ours to make. We can choose either to follow a trail that leads to God’s abundant blessings, or we can choose to follow a dead end path that leads to our demise. The choice is ours, as verse 12 says, “Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should [do what?] choose.”
In Psalm 25, life is described as a chosen journey. We go along the way, in verse 12, in verses 4 and 10 it’s called a path. I can relate to Psalm 25 as I like to hike. I’ve been on many hiking trails in my life. The one thing I’ve learned through experience is the importance of choosing the right path. Some trails, depending on the time of year, may be too muddy. Some trails may be too strenuous, some trails may be too long. Not every trail is the same.
Even when we choose the right trail, all kinds of unexpected things will happen. I recall a couple of years ago our family decided to hike up to the top of Pike’s Peak, right outside of Little Rock. It started off pleasantly; a gradual ascent, with stairs and handrails. We would be to the top in no time, enjoying the 360 degree panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley that stretched for miles. But about 3/4ths of the way up, the gradual ascent got steeper and steeper. Some of the kids wanted to be carried. It got hotter as the sun was out, no trees now to provide shade. Then, the last stretch of the hike, the trail with nice steps and handrails turned into giant boulders.
The writer of the Psalm, King David, has run into boulders in his life. He has chosen the path of life, the path of righteousness. But along the way, he has run into some obstacles. It will not prove to be an easy trail to hike, in fact, left on his own power he will surely fail. His enemies he encounters would like nothing better than to put him to shame; as he journeys he is plagued with internal doubts, as he recalls in his mind previous wanderings from the path and former sins. The essence of the trail of righteousness is this: it’s a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God.
I would call Psalm 25 the hiker’s prayer. Believe me, I was praying when I was near the top of Pike’s Peak, so high up the cars below looked like ants and climbing over boulders with a child on my back. David’s prayer as he travels, encountering his obstacles is this in verse 4, “Make me to know your ways O Lord, teach me your paths.”
God here is described as the trail master. He is the one who knows the way. God knows all the dangers, the places where we need to stop and rest. He knows where we can go to find water. God knows all the dangerous places and where it’s easy to get lost. Along the way, God will provide whatever we need. As David says in verse 10, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.” God is our trail master.
Several years ago I came across this story. It’s about a man who had a dream that he was walking along and he came to the entrance of a cave. He entered the cave and kept walking. Soon, he noticed these tall, sharp spikes with razor-sharp tips. Carefully, he walked around the spikes. As he continued walking, the spikes got closer to him, so much so he had to begin crawling and contorting himself to get around them. The cave continued to get narrower and narrower. But when it go so narrow he would have no choice but to get cut by the spikes, their tips were broken off. He followed the way where the spikes were broken off, and he emerged at the end of the tunnel, uncut. There he saw someone, cut and bleeding, who had gone before him. He said his name was Jesus and he had cleared the way for him.
That story is just a dream. But in the Bible, we read about something so dreamlike, so unreal that there really was someone named Jesus who has cleared the way for us. Jesus has come so that we can walk the path of righteousness, the path of life. Jesus has died on the cross for all of our sins. We no longer have to be held back by doubts and thoughts of how in the past we have wandered from the path. We no longer have to try to walk the trail alone, for Jesus is there with us, providing strength we need, and all the resources we need so that we can continue on.
This forty day season of Lent is a good time for us to be intentional in how well we are at walking along the path of life. The choice is ours; nobody else makes this choice for us. How good are you at making choices? God wants us to have more than a small amount of blessings. Even more than a medium large size or large order of God’s blessings, God will super size our order. God wants our cups brimming full and running over. So may we make good choices for our lives. May we make choices along the path of life that lead to God’s blessings. And may we have faith that Jesus will be our trail guide, guiding and directing us along the way.