Which Way from Here?
Weathervane at Bucks Harbor (Brooklin), Maine
Many of us are directionally challenged. We can usually tell “up” from “down”, but determining compass points or right from left may cause some temporary anxiety like the lost city folk must have felt when they asked for directions from an old Mainer who in his thick Downeast accent told them “You can’t get they-ah from he-ah.”
Despite diverse geographic locations and cultural backgrounds, we are all traveling in a direction quite simply defined by the title of the book and subsequent 1950’s war movie “From here to Eternity.” For some this spiritual journey will be short; for others there may be many uncertain miles to go before reaching that mysterious vastness beyond time. What really matters most is the route taken.
There are no shortage of advisors with varying suggestions for our journey. We must choose wisely because the wisdom of this world is wonky, and there are wolves in sheep’s clothing waiting to take advantage of our spiritual needs and vulnerabilities. We struggle to evaluate the trustworthiness of varied and frequently divergent opinions, theories, and anecdotal wisdom from philosophers, scientists, teachers, mentors, spiritual leaders, activists, ideologues, and theologians. Discernment may be a difficult process, but does it really matter what one believes?
It mattered to Israel! Jeremiah implored Israel to follow the principle that God had repeatedly revealed to them and which time and again proved itself true. “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls…” (Jeremiah 6:16)
The Psalms are packed with lyrical confidence that God is the source of goodness, meaning, and purpose. “All the paths of Jehovah are lovingkindness and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10) “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put trust in you. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:5-8) “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!” (Psalm 119:9-12)/ “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”(Psalm 119:37) “…I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.” (Psalm 119:44-45)
Centuries after the Psalmists sang and the Prophets spoke, the Apostle Peter made a similar point when he assured his readers: “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God…” (2 Peter 1:19-21)
That is also why the Apostle Paul could clarify why God’s Word is so significant and powerful. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
The great thing about the truths of Scripture is that they are totally reliable, do not need improvement, don’t change, and are totally pertainent to life. Because of this, God’s Word inspired the confidence, obedience, sacrifice, and enduring faith of Old Testament saints whose histories testify to the faithfulness and love and patience of God. (Hebrews 11) And Christ’s incarnation as the living Word, as the real life expression of God to humanity, more fully revealed and confirmed God’s redemptive plan that salvation comes through faith —not human endeavor. Faith powerfully transformed Christ’s disciples. After spending three years observing Jesus and then seeing and touching the risen Christ, they had no question that Christ was “ the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and were so convinced of his authenticity as God in humanity that they sacrificed their lives proclaiming him, his sacrifice, and his resurrection.
So, if Scripture is a divinely inspired, reliable guide for living and if it shines light on our journey to eternal hope, then we can’t miss the Way when we follow the path of faith mapped out in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”