Straight Path


When I started my ordained ministry I took communion at a hospice. A retired priest was there who, for me then, was very old. He had been a priest all of his adult life. I asked him to share what he had learned from his many years in the priesthood. He said: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” I will never forget that.

Now that I have lived beyond my allotted years, I would like to share what I have learned:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.   (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.   (Matthew 7:13-14)

How I wish that I could have learned this sooner. A young man does not always like discipline:

Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.   (Hebrews 12:11-13)

Jesus has walked a path for us. There is no better decision in life than to follow that path and stay on it. Everything else will fall into place. There is no other path where we will find rest for our souls:

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’   (Jeremiah 6:16)

Let us walk in it. Even fools are protected on this path:

A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.   (Isaiah 35:8)

We must remember who that path is:

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.   (John 14:6)