From The Garden Bench - The Way
Words by David Hollows
Your starter for 10 – in which film is there a yellow brick road and which famous singer sang the famous song in this film? Answers on a postcard please.
Although Satnavs are a technological blessing, one of the first items I bought for my new role as your Lay-worker was an A-Z for Rossendale in order to help me find my way around the valleys and the many estates. It has proved very useful. One thing I had forgotten about the valley was the restricted ways in and out of the valley hence the traffic issues.
Travel and journeys are a prominent feature in the Bible. Epic journeys taken by people like Abraham to a new country or Moses to a new land make the traffic chaos in Rawtenstall town centre seem insignificant – until you are caught up in it.
The Greek word, hodos, means; ‘the way’, ‘road’, ‘path’, and also ‘the journey you go on’ and can have an inference of a way of life or lifestyle. This Greek word is used more than 100 times in the New Testament alone and Jesus certainly had His take on this idea.
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In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus says these very precise words of instruction;
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. The easy street leads nowhere and Jesus does not travel on this street whereas Jesus is on the street of discomfort, difficulty and at times suffering. Words of comfort to persecuted Christians across the world
In John’s Gospel chapter 14 there are more famous words spoken by Jesus in response to the question from Thomas about direction;
'I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by me.' Jesus does not directly answer the question and give Thomas a destination. Instead Jesus assures His disciple that He, Jesus, is the way to the destination. The journey and the destination are not as important as the person who travels with you, Jesus, who only asks that we walk close with Him. The story of the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus following the Resurrection is evidence of this. And for the early Church and those first believers the title given to them was; followers of The Way.
The Christian Faith is often described in terms of a journey and the destination is eternity. For daily living on this journey we need guidance which is found in the Word of God, support which comes through prayer and a companion who is the Holy Spirit. However, the Christian journey is no saunter in the park as we should expect the issues of life to meet us and try to derail us or take us down different paths. Saul was travelling on the Damascus Road but his change of path was a positive one rather than a negative outcome. (Acts chapter 9)
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As Christians we also have a duty of care for other travelling pilgrims to ensure that they have our support on the journey as well as encouraging others we meet to join with us as we journey towards our destination who is God
Where are you on your journey? Is your journey started, derailed, bumpy, problematic or can you see your destination ahead? Who is travelling with you? What advice would you give to others about your journey?
Please spend a moment reading the following extract by Nick Fawcett from ‘Are you Listening?;
Which way now, Lord? I have to ask, for I am lost, confused, uncertain of the way forward. you see, I’m torn between two choices – my heart saying one thing but my head another and I can’t make up my mind which to listen to , which I ought to take.
It’s not that one is wrong and the other is right – if that were the case there would be no problem, the decision as good as made. But they both have points in their favour, and points against, their share of good, and their share of bad. I ought to make up my mind, I know that, yet I don’t want to, for I am afraid of missing out, of regretting my decision and wishing I could put the clock back and try again.
So forgive me, Lord, but unless you’re willing to show me the way forward, unmistakably, beyond all possibility of misunderstanding, I’m going to hedge my bets, and sit on the fence, for as long as it’s possible to stay there.
A word of caution; God moves on and we can be left behind sitting on the fence.
As you consider your own personal faith journey, you may find is helpful to sing or repeat the hymn;
One more step along the world I go (Hymns and Psalms 746)
You may also find these prayers helpful as you journey; Lord Jesus Christ, you have said that you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Suffer us not to stray from you, who are the Way, nor to distrust you, who are the Truth, nor to rest in anything other than you, who are the Life. Amen (Desiderius Erasmus)
O Lord our God and God of our Fathers. Mercifully direct and guide our steps to our destination and let us arrive there in health, joy and peace. Keep us from all snares and dangers and protect us from any enemies that we might meet along the way. Bless and protect our journey. Let us win favour in your eyes and in the sight of those around us. Blessed are you, O Lord, who hears and grants our prayers (Anon)
Lord Jesus Christ, the Way by which we travel; show me yourself, the truth that we must walk in; and be in me the Life that lifts us up to God, our journey’s ending. (Frederick B. Macnutt)
God bless you as you travel, fellow pilgrim
Photo by Doug Kelley via Unsplash
We all have stories and experiences to share of our Christian journey. If you would like to share your journey with us, please contact Rev. David Burrow
Signing off; your local Lay-worker, David Hollows