I once asked the question why what is right and what is difficult always seem to go hand in hand. Mrs. Erynn’s response got me to thinking. She said, “It’s not a reason, but the road less traveled does have more rocky spots, more holes, more winding. But (as you well know), there’s a Savior to lean on, a family to help you and a reward worth striving for.” It hit me like a ton of bricks…
A few years ago when I went hunting with my dad, he explained game trails to me. A hunter can always tell where a lot of animals frequently travel. You see, the more creatures that travel a certain trail, the more worn down it becomes. The plants start to break down and the rocks tend to get thrown from the pathway. Eventually, it becomes a smooth dirt trail. Naturally, that is easier to travel. If you think about it, our lives work in much the same way.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, when you look around, you don’t find most people doing what is right. Because the majority of people today do what they want regardless, that trail of selfishness is the smoothest one. There is a reason that the right path is often referred to as “the path less traveled by.” It is natural for us as humans to want to take the easiest way and to avoid the rocky, difficult parts whenever possible. Just like game trails become smoother with the more creatures that run them, paths of life seem to be so much easier with the more people that follow them. When it seems like we are the only ones doing what is right, it feels like we can never win. It is as if we are in the ocean just striving to keep our heads above water. If the amount of people that are currently doing wrong were doing right, the righteous pathway would be the smooth one. So what can we do? Do we struggle through this life feeling all alone; clinging to very little hope just trying not to drown? No! God would not leave us with that being our only choice. He has provided us with many ways to overcome the feelings of desperation and discouragement that Satan throws into our lives. There is no need to despair. Am I saying that things are always going to be perfectly peaceful? Of course not. Without trials we would not grow. Trials produce endurance (James 1:3). What I am saying, however, is that God provides help.
As Mrs. Erynn stated, we have the Savior, our family and a reward worth striving for. God knew that we could not make it through this life all on our own. That is one of the biggest reasons He gave us the church. Depend upon your brothers and sisters. Ask them to pray with you and for you, and do the same for them! Remember that James told us that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16b). Our family is there for our encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Surround yourself with the brethren. The amount of influence an individual (or several individuals in this case) can have on you is directly proportionate to how much time you spend with them. If you work in a worldly environment, chances are good that you are going to struggle with worldliness. You see your co-workers (or classmates for that matter) walking their sinful way every day without consequence (at least at the moment). It is far too easy for you to just follow right along. You need to spend enough time with your Christian family that they are your greatest influence. The path doesn’t have to be lonely, you just have to place yourself with godly companions who have the same intended end.
Now I would like to focus on the fact that we have not just our family, but also our Savior. Let’s face it, people are going to let us down. We cannot be perfect and we shouldn’t expect perfection from others. However, perfect is exactly what Christ is. He will never let us down. This is where I am going to admonish you to stay in the Word. How can we expect to be close to Christ if we do not read His Instruction Manual? Many people become frustrated with God because He doesn’t just show them a clear path. They distance themselves further and further from Him. God never moves away from us. That is something we should always remember. We can choose to walk away from Him, but He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5b). “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). Just as you could never expect to reach your destination without reading directions, you cannot expect to reach your goal of being near God if you don’t read the Guide He has given you.
Always remember that our final destination is worth every minute of the struggles and pain that comes with following the righteous path. Heaven is going to be more glorious than our human minds can fathom. Follow the path God is leading you on and you will find what you are looking for.
Lastly, I believe this is a good time to note the effect you have on others. Think of a role model you have had at one time or another. You did everything you could to be like them. You wanted to dress like them, walk like them, talk like them. I have had Christian role models in the church that never knew I was watching them. You never know who might be analyzing what you do. Even if you feel like you are completely alone in something and that you are the only person who is standing for what’s right, even among your Christian friends (which I guarantee you does happen), keep in mind that you may have someone examining you; observing your every move to see how you are going to deal with this situation in your life. You may be the reason that the path is a little easier for the next person to follow. Before you know it, as a result of what you’ve started, there may be several people advancing on the righteous way and making it smoother for everyone else who wants to come along. God may be using you as a huge tool in someone else’s life. What a noble thought.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” –Colossians 3:23, 24
By Anna Wilkie Dodgen
Anna and her husband, Jack, live in Tyler, TX where he serves as the associate minister to the Whitehouse church of Christ. Additionally, they both work with the ministry at strongchurch.org. Anna enjoys spending her days as a homemaker and photographer and living out her dream of being a wife.