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The two paths

I asked Sam what they talked about in the junior/senior high school class at church last Sunday. Usually, I’m prepared for my kids to say they learned about “God” during Sunday School. They rarely get more specific, unless I press. Sometimes, the lessons will come to them during the week or while watching Jeopardy.

“Who is Daniel?”

But Sam surprised me. He told me they learned there are two paths.

I asked what the paths were.

There is a path to death and a path to life. Every choice we make will put us on one path or the other. Some people try to go from one path to the other, thinking you can hop off and on paths like trains. Not so, at least not forever.

I agreed. Of course, nobody escapes from this life alive, so the path of death must mean something else. It’s destruction, anger, selfishness, darkness, contempt, and yeah, actual death. I was reminded of one of my favorite verses, which I use at my photo blog to explain why I bother to keep it:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. ~Phillippians 4:8, The Message

Since Sunday, Sam’s lesson has popped into my head numerous times. Am I on the path of life? Is how I approach and speak to my family boosting what’s authentic, compelling, gracious?

I’ve tried picturing what a grey path looks like. Is there something in-between, a compromise? Can you have one foot planted on the roof of the death train and the other on the life train? What happens when hazards come along, threatening to split you in two if you don’t hop firmly to one side or the other?

For example, the craggy grief tree approaches fast and suddenly. I’ve seen it and felt it rush by, felt the gnarled twisting limbs scratch at me. The temptation to drown away the sorrow with destruction can be powerful. One path is more work, it’s more humbling, it’s narrow. It’s life.


And then there are hazards like fame, power, success, which aren’t terrible on their own. They are neutral because they can be flavored by personal experience and beliefs. People have done beautiful things with their influence. People have done ugly things with their influence. I’m thinking of the Penn State controversy with Sandusky. On the surface, he seemed to be a man on the path of life, helping others, giving, mentoring, teaching. But hidden beneath that sheen of respectability was something foul and selfish and evil.

His actions and the inactions (inaction is an action) of others have created deep pain. From a distance, we may think we can judge if someone is living on the path or life or the path of death, but really? Nobody knows. This leaves a society where people are guarded and suspicious. It creates a world where it’s hard to reach out and do the right thing because motives are suddenly suspect. Death appears to triumph over life.

I want my kids to always, always choose the path of life. They’ll find it isn’t easy. Along the way, they’ll meet liars, cheaters, haters, gossipers, enslavers. I can’t sufficiently protect them. People like Sandusky prowl like lions while pretending to be something safe and tame. I can educate, guard, pray, pray, pray. Most importantly, I need to make sure my kids know there is good, there is evil, there right, there is wrong. Our world wants so much for existence to be as grey as a grey sky over a grey ocean.

Grey is the flag of scandal. Grey is the flag that’s easy to fly, flimsy. It always gets torn in the wind.

3 comments to The two paths

  • Yes! I immediately keyed in on the idea that you have to teach your kids that there is evil. I think one of the great problems facing our world is the belief that evil is not real. It is real, it does wreak havoc and destruction, and the minute people stop believing it exists is the minute it begins to chip away at life.

  • Oh so much. I also think that so many of us compare ourselves to the wrong person. We see others as shining examples or influencers but we don’t see it all. I will admire a friend’s relationship with her husband and wish I had that, only to learn they aren’t being faithful to each other. We see great leaders and put them up high, but yes, there is always the shadows. I am trying so hard to only want to be like Him, and have my children want the same.


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