Mom, how come we’re not walking on the grass?
My inquisitive three-year-old asked me as I pushed the double stroller along the winding path.
Well, because it’s showing us where to walk, I answered, plus, it’s a whole lot easier and less messy walking on the trail than on the grass.
Thankfully, my reply didn’t probe any more whys on the subject, although it did get me thinking…
There are only two directional choices in life. Jesus referred to these as the broad way and the narrow way. One is man’s way and one is God’s. One is popular and the other often lonely. One way leads to destruction and the other way to a happy life. There are only two choices, yet they yield two opposite results.
Most teenagers are currently trailing behind dad and mom. Stuck between childhood and adulthood, teens may get off course from time to time, so their caring parents guide them back on track.
But one thing your parents cannot guide fully is your inward, desire-driven heart. All the rules in the world can’t stop you from eventually pursuing your desires. If there’s a will, there’s a way. So the question is really, WHAT are your desires?
This reminds me of those twin brothers in the Book of Genesis. Their grandpa was given an incredible promise and they both had the potential to experience that same promise! Yet, through the course of life they separated from each other, one going this way, the other going that way. One stayed on the path; the other went off course and trampled over the grass into the overgrown shrubs.
The Book of Hebrews ties up the tale of these twins. The profane, ungodly, worldly-driven brother was overcome by offenses, many of which came from his own parents. He was blighted by envy, competition, and revenge. As a result, he ended up so bitter that even at the end of his life, having seen the self-destruction, found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. [12:17]
How did Esau get so low? How could he have grown up hearing and seeing the promises of God only to later reject them with all his heart?
Offenses…they hurt. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can come from unfortunate life events that are out of our control, or flow out of the mouth of fellow Christians. Offenses are a big part of life and they definitely affect our heart.
Bitterness…it destroys. Our heart can become bitter when getting whacked over the head with a few offenses.
This was Esau: offended and bitter, and he suffered for it (while on earth as well as in eternity). What was Esau missing or what could he have done differently during those offenses to guard his heart from leading him to such destruction?
One word: grace.
Grace is a gift from God. Grace is a diligent, willful act of the heart. It is refusing thoughts of hatred, revenge, and envy and replacing them with thoughts of kindness, care, and forgiveness. Grace is covering an offense with God’s love. His brother Jacob certainly made his fair share of mistakes, yet he discovered something Esau never did: God’s grace!
My daughter wondered what it would be like traipsing through the grass and going off course (perhaps it was to get a better glimpse of the squirrels). It only takes one misstep, one revengeful thought to take you off course down to destruction. Likewise, it only takes one act of grace to stay on the straight path that leads to an abundant life. I think we would all agree that we don’t want to end up like an Esau, bitter and miserable! Your parents can only dictate your path for so long, but it’s your current heart desires that will determine which path you’ll walk as an adult.
“And make straight paths for your feet… follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”Hebrews 12:13-15
Teenager, I pray that your desire is to stay on course and to not let your heart wonder off. When those inevitable offenses come your way – health problems, a hurting social status, family hardships, or unkindness from others – may you not allow it to lead you down a path of misery, self-loathing, and searching. Let your inner heart’s desire be to cover the difficult situations of life with free-flowing, sweet-smelling, God-empowered grace that will guide you to an abundant adult life.