Saturday, September 12, 2015

I’ll Take the High Road, or Low Road?

Photo by Elfea 2009

I dreamed I was in an old tenement section of a city, trying to find my way home. I was making my way from building to building by traveling across the rooftops and at times from one window ledge to the next, even though my path was dangerously narrow. I was afraid I would fall to the concrete below, where broken glass, garbage, and jagged rocks cluttered the ground.

At one point my path across the window ledge and over the roof was blocked, and I realized I had no choice but to climb down before I could resume my journey. I crawled down the side of the wall by placing one foot after another on protruding bricks, made my way on the pavement to the next building, then scaled the wall so I could continue on the high road. It was exhausting, but I was relieved to be on the rooftop again where I felt safer.

Then the scene changed in the dream and I was in the mountains of Ireland, hiking with a group of friends from our church. We started out along the path leading up from the road toward the gentle slope of the hillside. In the distance we could see the craggy peaks of the summit, and my pace quickened, for I yearned to be up there to get a better view.

But then I heard a voice calling me from below and I realized that one of my friends, a young woman, had ventured out on an alternate path from the trail head. It appeared to lead to a short cut and to save time reaching the summit, but it was actually more treacherous because the level stretch led straight through a bog.

From past experience I know that getting your boots stuck in the mud of an Irish bog is a sensation that I imagine is like being in quicksand. On one occasion I actually had to leave a boot behind and hobble back to the path in one boot and one sock, because it was the only way to escape being pulled down further.

The last thing I wanted to do was to leave the exhilarating trail leading upward and to go back, risking getting stuck in the mud. But now my friend’s cries sounded desperate; the others had already disappeared around the bend; and I knew I had no choice. I hurried back down the path, grabbed a few stray branches to pave our way, and helped her out of the bog and back to the main road.

As I awoke, I thought about the parallels between the situations in the dream and detours in our Christian walk. Like other aspects of life, we never remain in the same place – either we are advancing and making progress, or we retrogress and get further away from our desired destination.

We long to find our way home, for we are just strangers in a foreign land (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11), and we long to reach the summit where we will see Christ face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). One day we will, if we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

When Christ returns for His children at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 3:13-18), we will instantly be transformed and receive our glorified bodies to be as He is. But until then, we undergo the gradual change of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 3:8-13; 4:1-12), becoming more conformed to His image through prayer, meditation on His Word, and even suffering (Philippians 3:10).

Sometimes what seems like a setback in our Christian walk may actually be a trial God allows into our life to increase our faith in and dependence on Him, to conform us into His image through suffering, and to give us compassion and experience to help others going through similar trials (Romans 8:28).

In the first part of the dream, when I was trying to get home, the path to my destination was narrow and challenging, as is the Way that leads to Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). When my path across the high ground was blocked, I had to descend downward into danger, but only for a short time before He provided a way back up again.

Even when we are in a deep pit (Job 33:28-30; Psalm 30:3; Isaiah 38:17), or passing through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), we have no cause to fear, for He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). When obstacles in our path seem insurmountable, He will guide us to the mountain pass leading safely through them.

The second part of the dream was a reminder that God has made divine appointments for us since before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:29-30), although we have the free will to accept or decline them.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the Pharisee and the Levite ignored the wounded Samaritan on the side of the road. But no doubt they felt justified in doing so, because to stop would have taken them away from what they thought was their higher calling – namely, fulfilling their religious duties and service. By not stopping they actually showed that their hearts were not with Jesus (Matthew 15:8), Who commanded that we love one another (John 13:34-35).

Yet Jesus said that the true neighbor in the parable was the Samaritan who tended to the dying man at great expense and sacrifice to himself, showing God’s selfless love (John 15:13) and putting His plan above his own personal agenda (Proverbs 3:5-6). May we listen when He calls us (John 10:27) to help others, even though at the time we may have different ideas of how we should be serving Him.
May we walk toward the heavenly places He has appointed for us by walking in love (Ephesians 5:2), in the light (1 John 1:7), and in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25) until He comes again!

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! God bless.

Brenda said...

Yes Laurie,
may we be like the good Samaritan, and help those in need both physically and spiritually. As I read this I was reminded of a man I knew in Lancashire. He was a 'rough and ready toughie' who helped his neighbours even though he was a bit of a criminal. He eventually came to the Lord though after being ignored completely by a nun and another person who thought he was drunk when he was quite ill and lying in the road. I met him when a community worker, who was also a vicar, called me down to meet him in the house which was used by the council as an office in the middle of a housing estate. The man eventually asked me to pray for him and as I did a massive clap of thunder sounded overhead even though the weather was fine and the sky was blue. He was convinced that God had done this and he ended up coming to my house to prayer meetings and eventually to the church I attended.
God has a most amazing way of reaching people, and it is very important that we respond as the Samaritan did when the Lord leads us. I love reading about your dreams Laurie, and how nice that you have been to Ireland.
God bless

Laurie Collett said...

What a wonderful testimony, Brenda! Thanks for sharing it. May we always be sensitive to hear His call and follow His lead.
Ireland is a beautiful place with many friendly people. At some of the beaches, you can almost imagine Christ walking on the water.
May God bless you for your faithfulness to follow Him,

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Hiking is something I have always enjoyed doing, whether it was the city Freedom Trail of Boston Massachusetts, or the more rugged journey along Bright Angel Trail from South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River that flows through the bottom of the gorge, I have found both experiences very exhilarating. Not to mention many other hikes I've completed in between, including the very testing Jurassic Coast Path of South West England, and the Coast-to-Coast from Carlisle to Newcastle, along the Hadrian's Wall of Northern England.
All these are designated hiking trails which offer splendid views of the environment, whether historical, as was the case with Boston, or natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and the Jurassic Coast, or even a combination of both, as was the Hadrian's Wall Trail, which runs alongside an ancient wall with its numerous forts, built by the Romans to mark the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. The wall crossed the Pennines, a range of hills which forms the backbone of England, and therefore offering splendid natural views.
Jesus talks about two types of road, the broad one used by most people, which leads to destruction, and a narrow one, probably strewn with rocks, but leading to eternal life, and therefore used only by a few.
Perhaps a choice between walking along a freeway (how boring!) or a rugged trail offering exhilarating views, even if it means scrambling over some rocks from time to time.
An excellent blog. Once again God speaking to you through dreams. Thanks so much for sharing.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Hiking is indeed a wonderful way to savor the sights, sounds, and scents of the local environment, making the experience altogether different than from an automobile. We hiked the Freedom Trail with our son and have gone part of the way down the Bright Angel, and spent an amazing week hiking in the National Parks of Utah (I think you would really enjoy that).
Thanks as always for sharing your experiences and your encouraging words.
God bless,