Wounded: But Alive

27 05 2007

Proverbs 4:19, 25-27 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble...  25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 5:3 – For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,and her speech is smoother than oil; 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.  5 Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  6 She gives no thought to the way of life;  her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. 7 Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.  8 Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house,

Romans 8: 5  – Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

This text goes right along with what I was writing yesterday.  It is important to stay far away from the things that are dangerous.  Whether it be an adulterous relationship with a woman, a steep cliff, a roaring fire, or an adulterous relationship with my self.  I really like the illustration my brother uses:  If we were walking on a mountain side and came to a steep and deep drop, we would move to the far side of the trail and stay far away from the slope's edge.  This would be even more true if the edge of the trail was crumbly – or had loose pebbles.  But for some reason, we tend not to see the dangers of life like this.  If we see a beautiful woman, for instance, we want to get close to her – even though past experience (not to mention Proverbs 5) tells us that we will be hurt, wounded, or even destroyed by this encounter.  Now this doesn't mean that every beautiful woman is dangerous, nor does it say that only beautiful women are dangerous.  But it is enough information for me to be leary and careful.

Even if I didn't know it was dangerous to walk too close to the trail's edge, if someone told me to be careful, I would listen.  Why can't I listen and head this advice when it comes to other dangers in my life?  When we went sea kayaking in Glacier Bay, we were told to stay at least a 1/2 mile from the calving glaciers, so we did.  They told us to not store our food with our tents and to eliminate any sweet-smelling items from our tents ( e.g. deodorant, gum, food, toothpaste, etc.), so we did.  We had never seen a huge glacier calving and we'd never seen anyone eaten by a grizzly bear:  but we knew enough to heed the advice of others.

I've seen men devoured by women, but I've seen men consumed with hedonistic passion that they mistook for nirvana.  It is hard to discern the truth sometimes.  It wasn't until I experienced a veritable quandary of passion and despair that I ran away from the choices that were destroying me.  Why couldn't I heed the advice without experiencing the destruction myself?

Like a moth to the flame, I flew straight toward the danger and was consumed in an instant. 

What else looms large in my life that I need to avoid?  What dangers lurk around the next corner?  What cliffs, in the dark, seek to consume me?

One day, a group of us went hiking, but the trail came to an end before we arrived at our pick up spot.  We turned about-face as soon as we discovered our error, but the sun was setting and the unpredictable mountain weather changed to rain and sleet.  The temperature was dropping and the darkness descended like the executioner's hood.  Our two disposable flashlights quickly reached their conclusion and we stumbled along in the darkness – hands on shoulders:  the blind leading the blinder.

The trail wound through an ancient rain forest of tall evergreens that sought to block out even the distant starlight.  We traversed a narrow trail between two cliffs:  one arose skyward on our right and the other descended into the abyss on our left.  Both cliffs were unseen on this wilderness mountainside, but they were felt in our fearful hearts and our immediate future seemed to portray certain disaster.

Unprepared for disaster, the cold began to penetrate our souls as we hurried towards a destination that not long ago was the launchpad for a fun afternoon.  No one had to convince me to stay close to the ascending mountain on my right.  I knew there was no chance I would fall up the mountain.  I was equally certain that I didn't want to fall into the darkness on my left.  And even though my right knee constantly crashed into rocks, tree roots, and other unseen appendages, I preferred wounds to my knee to death.  I crowded the mountain side as if it were my only hope.

I clung to the shoulder of the person in front of me, and she clung to the shoulder of the person in front of her.  We trusted our leader to lead us off the mountainside and we ignored the dangers around us.  Like the text above clearly states: we kept our unseeing gaze straight ahead and did not wander to the right or the left.

I don't know what dangers lie around me.  Though it seems the danger of sexual lust has passed, it hasn't.  I need to heed the danger and crowd far away from any potential.  What other lusts await me?  TV, food, material wealth, cars, pleasure, recreation, amusements, or any number of distractions and destructions?  Are they synonymous?

It is better for me to crowd the edge of the Rock, then to flirt with Satan's abyss.  Sure, there are alluring enticements that promise instant pleasure and gratification.  Often they deliver on their promises.  The instant gratification often delivers instant despair too.  Often, the only promise of relieving the despair is another round of gratification, but each cycle spirals deeper into the abyss and offers less hope of recovery.

Like a mighty roller coaster of hope, I am left $12 poorer and right where I started from in less time than it takes to express my eternal need for something else.

It is only by realizing my spiritual need and the One who will supply that need, that I can overcome the wants that provide nothing in return.  It is by staying on the path of right-doing that I can find the destination of peace, vision, courage, and power.

Father God, I'm ready.  Continue to guide me forward and farther than I've ever been before.  I'm tired of the slippage of the edge and I'm tired of the roller coaster cycle of finishing where I started.  I'm tired of taking dead-end trails and retracing the treacherous paths that take me nowhere.  I don't even get off the roller coaster where I got on — I finish behind the starting place.  When I retrace the dead-end paths, I am left cold, wet, and less certain than I began.

I'm ready Lord.  Take me on a path that takes me somewhere.  Take me on a path that moves over the horizon of hope.  No matter how circuitous, no matter how treacherous, no matter how dark or unknown:  I know it is Your path and Your leadership that is certain.

We may even have to veer cross country in order to  regain a more solid footing — I'm ready God.  Let's roll!





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