He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3 NKJV
I thought little of it when it was there; only after it disappeared did I consider its importance.
As a child, I thought the distance was great. When I became an adult, I realized only about thirty yards lay my grandmother’s and my aunt’s house. Between those two homes rested a path—a well-worn path. And a reason existed why I never had to wonder where the path lay. The path protruded so visibly because many people traveled it. Me, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my three cousins.
We traveled the path for various reasons. My grandmother knew how to cook good Southern food—and she did for dinner and supper every day. She and my grandfather never went out to eat. They lived in the country and would have had to drive a long way to find a restaurant. And these were the days when folks rarely ate out anyway. Moms cooked and families gathered around the table to eat and spend time together.
The path was good. It passed my aunt and uncle’s well, which provided water for their home. It passed large oaks and pines that gave shade to their yard. The path meandered by two grape orchards where everyone in both houses picked grapes to enjoy. The path also passed a large pecan orchard where my grandmother and aunt gathered nuts to eat, roast, and use in pecan pies. And just before getting to my grandparents’ home, the path traveled by a gas tank, which provided heat for their home.
This path lay well-exposed for many years until my grandmother died. My grandfather had died many years before. After my grandmother died, no reason existed to walk to her house again. In fact, my mother and my aunt sold the house and the property to strangers. When I visited my aunt some years later, I noticed the path was barely visible.
The psalmist proclaimed God led him along the paths of righteousness. The writer of Proverbs said, There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (14:12).
Like cattle, sheep make paths through their grazing pastures. They will also overgraze pastureland if the shepherd doesn’t carefully monitor the pastures to check for damage and then rotate them to other pastures.
We love ruts … things that don’t change. We enjoy feeling comfortable, but change takes us out of our comfort zones. Ruts symbolize sheep who have been in the same pasture too long, and they indicate a lack of movement in the right direction in our lives. God wants to move us toward spiritual maturity. That doesn’t happen automatically—or without change.
Walking the paths of righteousness means we must have a plan. When a young boy, my dad had a plan. He gathered our family every night and read the Bible to us. He wanted us to learn about God, receive God into our lives, and enjoy all God had in store for us. Our Great Shepherd wants the same.
Attaining paths of righteousness means we must keep moving. That entails not staying in the same pasture where we form a rut which makes us like our comfort pasture more than the one to which God wants to lead us.
We also must trust where God leads. We normally enjoy our way better, but the writer of Proverbs reminds us our way leads to all sorts of ruin. Listening to the news for one day clues us in.
And God wants us to live out our position. When we trust Christ to forgive our sins, He clothes us in His righteousness—but that doesn’t mean we necessarily act that way. By walking in faith, we let Him show us how to live with righteousness each day—rather than lumbering down the paths that will lead to our destruction.
Don’t take just any path; take the right path.
Prayer: Father, thank You for leading us to the paths of righteousness.
Tweetable: Are you walking the right path?
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