Hard Road Journey – Part 3

In Chapter One of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“, he briefly touches upon the idea that there may be a reason for the terrible spot that you find yourself in now.  But even if there was an answer to the question of “Why am I in this mess?”, the more important question to answer is, “How do I get through this situation?”

It is this second question which Atteberry now deals with in all the remaining chapters of his book.  He gives what he calls “Strategies”, or you could call them road maps, to help you and I get through these difficult times.  So if we put aside the “Why” question, then we can focus on “How do we get through this?”  But before we look at Chapter Two’s strategy, Atteberry offers us a strong caution which I think we should heed.

It is an unfortunate truth that the very time when we need to make good decisions, we often make bad choices.  When people, the circumstances of life, or wrong things we do come and hit us and knock us down, we are in pain and we reach out for whatever we think will give us comfort or relief from that pain.  And many times, what we think will help us will in the end actually harm us.

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At this point, we need to ask ourselves why we would choose things that we know are bad or wrong for us.  I believe Atteberry has got it right when he says we have an enemy, Satan, who sees us in our pain and brokenness and disguises lies as truth, and makes sin look attractive.  Regarding Satan, Atteberry writes:

He recognizes that people in pain will often grope for anything that hold the promise of relief, even if it’s temporary.  (pg. 17)

So how do we not make our situation even worse than it already is?  It’s not enough to say to ourselves, “Stop making bad choices and do what is right.”  There has to be something that is bigger than ourselves to help us to consciously and consistently choose to do what is right.  And so Atteberry challenges us in this chapter to “Commit to Strict Obedience.”

What does he mean by this?  I believe that we all do have something, or should I say Someone, to whom we ought to give our full allegiance.  It is God, and His Word contained within the pages of the Bible that will guide us in the path of right living and right choices. And it is when we commit to Him that we will find our path becomes straight and will guard our feet from slipping.

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This brings to mind for me an experience that could have literally cost me my life.  I mentioned in an earlier post (Impacting Others for Jesus) how I went down to South America while being part of the Canadian Navy.  When we got to Peru, I asked the Captain for a 3-day leave to visit a missionary couple that lived in the mountain city of Cuzco whom our church supported.

Amazingly he granted me my request and so I flew up to visit them.  While there, they suggested I take the train to go visit the world-famous ruins of Machu Picchu and I jumped at the opportunity.  The train ride was fantastic as we made our way from valley to valley through lush tropical mountainous terrain.  Then we took the local shuttle buses up the steep mountainside road which included 13 hairpin curves to get to the actual site of the ruins.

I wasn’t part of a tour group, so I used a tourist guidebook to help me traverse the ruins and find out all about its history.  What a fabulous day I had climbing in and around the old Incan city.  By mid-afternoon I was pretty much done, but then the guidebook told about taking the razor-thin trail from Machu Picchu to its sister peak called Huayna Picchu.  You can see in the picture below how steep the sides of the mountains are and how narrow the trail is between them.

The guidebook said that it was a difficult climb, but worth the effort.  I would have called the climb “dangerous”, but the view from the top was truly spectacular.  Then I realized that I would have to hurry to get the last shuttle.  Now the guidebook said, “Be careful on the trail, especially on corners.”  But I was more concerned about the time than my safety.  And at one corner of the descent, I was going a little fast so I put my foot down on the bush at the corner to slow me….but I discovered too late that the bush grew sideways out of the side of the mountain.

Suddenly I went out into empty space…..and landed on a flat ledge about 14 feet below.  I leaned over and looked at the river which was more than a 1,000 feet below.  In my foolishness, I did not listen to the words of caution in the guidebook.  And that mistake just about cost me my life.  I went more cautiously after that and did catch the last shuttle.

So what did I learn from that day?  And what am I still trying to learn today?  It is important to listen to the words of the Guidebook.  And as Christians, we have a special guidebook, the Bible.  If we will commit to listening to the message of God’s Word, then we are much more likely to find a straight path out of our current distress.  Will you commit along with me to being more obedient listeners to God’s Word?  I believe this is how we can lessen the pain and the struggle of our journey in life.

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