Are You at a Crossroads?
Written by: Laura Banman VanDyk
Have you ever gone hiking in the woods in winter? You start down the meandering path, breathing deeply to fill your lungs with the crisp, fresh air. As you go farther along, you notice subtle scents of evergreen needles, dormant trees and damp leaves. You look up to try to catch a glimpse of the scolding squirrels jumping from branch to branch overhead, and suddenly you realize the path ahead abruptly splits. You stop to look around. Both paths appear well travelled, the snow equally trampled in both directions, but you cannot see ahead to where each path leads. How do you choose which way to go?
Last winter, my oldest daughter and I went on a mini holiday up north, and we tried snowshoeing for the first time. The park guide pointed us in one direction through the woods, uphill, but quickly assured us that the incredible view of the scenic lookout at the top would be so well worth the effort of the climb, and that it would be downhill from there. So off we went, or I should say, off went my capable daughter while I awkwardly adjusted to having two rather large new feet. I would rather not admit it, but not very far into the climb my quad muscles in both legs starting screaming in pain, and I mean screaming. I began wondering if I would make it to that scenic lookout. The reward of the incredible view at the top just might not happen for me. It was beginning to look like it was going to be all pain with no gain. It was then, that I recall coming to a fork in the path, one way continuing painfully up and one way cutting over and across. Was the view at the top truly worth the pain involved to get there we wondered? Or should we take the path that cut across in hopes that it would soon lead downhill?
Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you are seemingly cruising right along; you are happy and healthy, enjoying your job and relationships, and suddenly you come up on a fork in the road? You realize you have a decision to make; you need to decide which direction to take. One road appears to lead painfully upward, while the other one leads across and hopefully soon afterwards downhill. Is the route that seems to require a difficult uphill climb going to be worth the time and effort? Perhaps it involves your job, and one choice requires taking extra courses, maybe even going back to school, and long hours, but eventually a promotion with more pay. Alternatively, you could choose to transfer over to a job that doesn’t require additional time and effort, but pays less. Or maybe it’s an investment decision you need to make, or whether to move, or, if you’re a high school student, which direction to go post-secondary school.
Ruth, in the Bible, also came to a fork in the road. She unexpectedly had a life altering decision to make. Ruth, a Moabite woman, married one of the sons of Elimelek and Naomi, who had left Bethlehem, Judah and moved to Moab due to a famine, with the intention to return to Judah when the famine was over. In the meantime, Naomi’s husband, Elimelek, died, her sons married (one married Ruth) and after they had lived in Moab about ten years, both her sons also died. Now Ruth, her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law were childless widows, the most disadvantaged class in the ancient world. Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, heard that the Lord had come to the aid of his people in Bethlehem, Judah by providing food for them, so she prepared to return home. Naomi told her two daughters-in-law that they should each go back to their mother’s homes. Ruth’s sister-in-law returned to her people and her gods, but Ruth decided not to turn back, but rather to journey on with her mother-in-law to a new country, a new people, and a new God. It was not an easy journey. It required a hike through the desolate Jericho pass, through the Judean wilderness near the Dead Sea, going across the Jordan River, into the land of Moab. It was also more than just a change of address. Ruth left behind her Moabite gods she grew up with and made a decision to follow the God of Israel.
A fork in your path provides an opportunity for two different journeys, for two ways to experience life. Ruth could have chosen to turn back with her sister-in-law, Orpah, to live with her family, worship her gods, and stay in her own country, but she chose a seemingly more difficult path, with an amazing reward. You see, Ruth’s decision led to her playing a key role in the coming of the promised Messiah. Ruth ended up marrying a distant relative named Boaz. Their son was the father of Jesse, Jesse fathered David, who became king, and from the line of King David the Messiah was born. How amazing is that?
As for my snowshoeing experience, I can assure you that the view was absolutely spectacular at the top, and well worth the super sore muscles and labored breathing it took to get me there. Either path would have eventually led me to where I needed to end up on the trail, but the one requiring extra pain and effort offered a spectacular reward. That day the crisp, cold air offered a clear view that went on for miles and miles.
Where are you on your journey through life? Are you at a peak enjoying the vista, cruising downhill, or at a crossroad with a looming decision to make? When you come to a crossroad in life, how do you make the decision of which path to take? The advice in Scripture is to rely on the guidance of God when facing decisions: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Consider including these three steps to guide your decision-making:
Pray to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Search the Scripture: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Saviour.” Psalm 25:4-5 NIV
Seek Godly counsel: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 NIV
Laura is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Sports Nutrition Coach, and a Co-Active Life Coach. She loves learning about how wonderfully we are created, strongly believes in the mind-body connection, and has a passion for helping women thrive physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. She is a mom to three amazing girls, loves fitness, nature and the Creator.