“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining even brighter till the full light of day."
- Proverbs 4:18
A regular activity I engage in to promote overall health and balance in my life is to run 3 to 5 miles three days a week. One of the times I have found to be most beneficial for my exercise routine has been early Sunday morning prior to church. Running on the Lord's Day has become a sacred and focused time as I am able to rejoice in the Lord with praise, reflect on the message I will be bringing to the church family, and release any added stress I may be carrying.
This past Sunday morning I left the house a little after six a.m. ready for my running routine. Within my first few steps I was stopped in my tracks and startled to find that the start of my course was going to have to be recalculated. As I turned off from our street onto the neighborhood green belt, I encountered a coyote eating its prey about thirty feet in front of me. I froze, stood tall (at least I think I did), and began to walk backwards towards my street. As much as the coyote spooked me, I could tell it was surprised by our encounter. However, with its meal on the pathway, I decided it was wiser to go the opposite way. I went in a different direction with both a clear pathway and a clear mind, and I was able to finish my run with no other surprises or detours.
Now there may be some super brave folks out there who may say they would have stood tall, made loud noises, and not given an inch to the path they were on. But I saw the coyote as a potential threat that was best to be avoided and a danger that could be averted. As I think about last Sunday's "daybreak detour" I want to be ever aware that God is present to guide, to warn, to protect, and to divert us from the varying temptations and traps that are set in our way to keep us from following His perfect way. Psalm 119:9 provides a most important direction to the destination called "holiness", "How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word." Make no mistake that as we walk out the daily course of our lives and strive to follow in the steps of our Savior, we will encounter temptations that seek to get us off course, traps that seek to destroy us, and obstacles that seek to keep us from places of life, promise, and breakthrough. There are times the enemy stands in the way to keep us from God's best, which we must continue to press on towards the GOAL and there are other times we need to turn away from a collision course with the enemy because he is looking to persuade us into a place of COMPROMISE and CORRUPTION. One of Paul's instructions to Timothy was about moving in a direction that kept him far from sin and moving forward on the purity pathway. In II Timothy 2:22 he exhorts his son in the faith to, "Flee the evil of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
Here are some things to focus on as we look to follow the path of life, blessing, and peace:
1) God will direct our steps-
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path."- Psalm 119:105
"But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth..."- John 16:13
2) God will bring clarity to what seems confusing-
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."- Proverbs 3:5-6
"Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."- John 8:12
3) God will remove all that blocks our path-
"The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth."- Isaiah 26:7
"Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."- John 14:6
4) God can strengthen us in the face of all temptations-
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."- Matthew 6:13
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."- I Corinthians 10:13
5) God is on our side so all fears must flee-
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley , I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."- Psalm 23:4
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."- James 4:7
"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One that is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."- I John 4:4