Last weekend my family and I went camping on the edge of the Badlands along with a number of friends. Several times during the weekend we hiked down into the Badlands. Because of the combination of the grade which we were sometimes walking down (or up) and the nature of the Badlands–very dry sedimentary rocks that break easily, resulting in being rather slippery at times–it was important to watch our steps carefully to avoid slipping and taking what would, at times, have been a potentially lengthy–and probably unpleasant–slide down the terrain.
As important as watching ones step while hiking may be, it is even more important to watch our steps as we walk through life. Proverbs 4:26 says, “Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established” (HCSB).
During our hikes last weekend there were times when I walked casually along, confident that I was on firm and stable ground. During these times I did not even need to look down at the path I was walking very often, because I knew it was safe. I was free to look around me, to enjoy the spectacular scenery of a very unique part of God’s creation.
Other times, though, I looked nowhere but at the path. At times, I would stand still and carefully evaluate the path before me to determine exactly where best to place my next step in order to ensure safe and tumble-free progress along the way.
Life is very much like that. There are times in life when I am safely located in the midst of God’s will and the path before me is clear and stable. At these times I need to be aware of my path, and to look down now and then, but I am also free to be more aware of what else is going on around me. There are other times, though, when I may be faced with choices and decisions, or I may find myself in unfamiliar and uncertain places, not quite sure what I am supposed to do next, that I need to pause to carefully consider each step. I need to do so for my own well-being, and to be sure that I am seeking–and following–God’s will for my life.
Scripture uses the illustration of a path frequently to refer to life in the world and the choices we make as we walk life’s journey. Consistent among these passages are the reminders that (1) God will direct our paths if we will let Him, (2) there are consequences for taking the wrong path or failing to watch our steps–whether intentionally or carelessly, and (3) there are rewards for remaining on the right path.
Just a few examples…
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
“My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” Psalm 17:5 (ESV)
“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” Psalm 25:4 (ESV)
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.” Proverbs 4:14 (ESV)
“[S]he does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” Proverbs 5:6 (ESV)
“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” Proverbs 10:17 (ESV)
“The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.” Isaiah 26:7 (ESV)
So, just a reminder…watch your step!