One of my favorite roads to travel in the Fall season is the one pictured here. It is an ancient dirt road that gracefully winds it’s way down the valleys and river beds from north to south in our area. It was a well traveled wagon road in the early 1700’s that connected the small frontier settlements of the Adirondacks to south central New York. Before that, it was a Mohawk indian path that led from the Adirondack high peaks into the Mohawk Valley. If this road could talk, what an amazing history it would reveal!
If we could view this road in historical time-lapse, it would show the first Americans traveling south after the glaciers melted, and woolly mammoths lumbering along in search of a mate or food. It would reveal deer and bear, mountain lions, wolves and other animals seeking safety or shelter from deadly storms, summer heat or bitter winter cold. We would see Indian tribes from the 7 Nation Confederation forging alliances, or other tribes going to war. They would be walking along in single file, silenced, focused movement. Eagles, owls and hawks would swoop down to make a fresh kill. We would see British and American troops marching along in preparation for the battles ahead. Then would come horseback riding preachers, wagons full of farm supplies , Model A Fords, 1945 Roadsters and finally me.
Every time I am slowly moving down this road in my 4 wheel drive vehicle, or walking along it hunting partridge on a late Fall afternoon, I think of those who traveled here. When I come upon a small stone walled graveyard with weather worn headstones I look at the names and dates with a holy awe. It always makes me wonder about the decisions and circumstances that brought them down this road. Who were these people? Where did they come from, what were they thinking as they traveled along and how did this path finally take them here? Each life was unique and each journey impacted others in many ways. This roadway was taken with a purpose in mind, and it actually took them to their own unique destination in history.
I see the same mountains and rivers they saw. I feel the same sun and the same moon as it rises. I feel the same breeze in my face, climb the same hills and move through the same bends in the road. I stand in the same ancient grave yard where they are now buried. I am actually walking in their foot steps, on the same soil they trod, yet the end result for me will be very different. That, my friends is an unchangeable truth. You can go where others have gone, see what others saw, and even feel what they felt, but you will not get the same results they got. Your path, though it may overlap the path of others at times, will always bring you to the exact place you alone need to be.
This is what it means to be on “the right path”. It is the one that you are on, right now, in this present moment. Every view, every breeze, every footstep you take is yours alone to experience, learn from and enjoy. It may be that thousands have walked before you in this same place, but their journey does not dictate where you will end up. Let the experience of living life on your path, forge the final outcome of your journey. Appreciate where and when others have walked, but never let their journey decide where yours will go.
What job will you have? What church will you attend? What friends will you hang with or vacation will you take? What person will you marry? These are all paths that you have to decided on, discover and walk on for yourself. If you let the opinions of others influence you and direct the path you take, you are nothing more than a spectator, living someone else’s life. That’s a directionless life of “leading from behind”. It never provides the clear focus and vision people must have to be happy and successful in what they do. What a tragic loss it is when anyone gets trapped in this broken ideology. The good news is, no one has to stay there!
Let me encourage you today to walk your path and lead the way with anticipation and hope for what is just around the next bend. If things are painful, hold on and keep walking. If things are good walk on and keep rejoicing. If things are uncertain carry on and keep trying. If things are tough move on and keep praying. This is your road and you have the power to walk with boldness all the way. Your destination will not be like that of those who have gone before you. No…. your road will take you to the exact people, places and position you need to fulfill your calling. So don’t stop now, and don’t look back! You may need to sit and rest at times, and that’s ok. Then get up and keep walking, because this is the season to press on and enjoy the “the right path” that God has set before you!