No, I’m not talking about how to not be gay.
The pounding on the pavement, the mechanical, rhythmic inhaling and exhaling, the pursuit of a destination while leaving everything else behind — running is both simple and poetic. Like most runners I know, I like to plan out my path, and the rest of it is a matter of execution and determination. Fatigue is inevitable, but the ultimate reward is the sense of accomplishment, that you were able to stick it out and finish the route standing upright, for the most part.
When the great fog of fatigue swirls around your knees and chest, however, focus becomes imperative, especially for those who don’t have a choice but to run during dark hours. You have to know where you’re going and where each step is going to land, or injury is literally a few steps away.
In all ways, we have to watch our step. Christians are becoming notorious for not doing this — that’s why our reputation sucks so bad. We say way too much at the wrong time, do stupid things in public that end up getting us tagged on Facebook by our unwitting friends, and we are altogether not paying attention to what God says, detaching ourselves from the supreme source of wisdom.
Solomon uses the illustration of a path, over and over. This isn’t over our heads — we still use sidewalks, streets, and hallways daily. Here are six things to remember about the path.
1) Straight paths keep you from stumbling. (v. 12) The Bible is pretty straightforward about things. Get it? If you keep turning corners, it’ll take a lot longer to get where you’re supposed to be going, and you’re likely to get lost or trip over something. Just glean from your experiences (or your spouse’s) of “taking a shortcut.” Yah.
2) Avoid the path of the wicked. Don’t even consider it. (v. 14) If someone is doing something stupid, don’t follow them. It’s tempting, because being “good” is boring. But the payoff for not being an idiot is tremendous.
3) Your vision is clearer on the correct path. (v. 18) If the path is super long, it’s likely the destination isn’t quite visible. But it’s easier to see the road if you’re going straight. No surprise there.
4) Off the path, you’ll stumble, and you won’t even know why. (v. 19) This verse directly addresses sin. People that consistently pursue the “path of the wicked” become complacent to righteousness, and with this shroud of apathy covering their eyes, are shocked when things start falling apart around them. Hm.
5) Look straight ahead. And then go that way. (v. 25) Ever wonder why traffic slows down on the freeway after an accident? If you don’t, consider this your personal revelation and your call to quit looking at the shoulder. Using running again, your progress takes a hit if you’re not looking straight: you throw your balance off, it’s harder to breathe, and, once again, you don’t know where you’re headed.
6) Make sure your path is stable. (v. 26) A straight path doesn’t always mean the right one — check out the road. Is it navigable at all? Are you prone to find yourself flat on your face? It’s also important to be ready, to wear the right shoes for the journey. That means actual prayer time, and actual contemplation of the Word. If this isn’t happening for you, it’s a good place to start.