Keith Wishum: Only one way to get there

Published 4:44 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

Five weary backpackers trudged up a hillside on the Appalachian Trail. After 10 miles of mountains, the group longed for rest at Peck’s Corner Shelter, their stop that night. Rounding a turn, they met a lone hiker headed the opposite way. As they chatted briefly with Dave, they were shocked to hear him say, “I’m stopping at Peck’s Corner tonight.”
Something wasn’t right. They couldn’t be going in opposite directions and all be going to the same place. In the ensuing discussion, Dave was adamant that he was right. He had a GPS device that insured that he knew exactly where he was and the direction he was moving. Less high tech, the group of five pulled out trusted maps. They compared memories about which direction they had headed when leaving the last shelter. The sun and its trajectory were discussed.
This trail-side conference is much like our greatest challenge in life. People are all walking basically the same trail from cradle to grave, and often speak of having the same destination. Yet, there exists a confusing array of beliefs about the proper direction. Consider some observations about the backpackers’ debate.
1) We must decide a direction. Had Dave and the five pitched camp until all agreed, they would have eventually died from starvation or dehydration. We can’t live in limbo. We must choose a direction and move on.
2) Direction determines destination. Going in opposite directions would never bring them all to the same destination. All life paths are not equal.
3) Decisions still leave doubt. Even with expensive gear, Dave might be wrong. Though in the majority, the group realized they could also be mistaken. Both parties wisely reevaluated, then made their choices believing their information was most credible. Not until the end of the day, would the outcome be certain.
At the critical crossroads of our lives, Christ confronts us with a bold claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Not one among many paths, but the one true path. We must decide if his claim is true. We cannot camp in the crossroads. We must weigh the evidence, evaluate its validity, and decide. We must also carefully evaluate whether his is the path we are actually following. That decision determines our final destination.
Both Dave and the group kept their original courses. In an hour, the group reached Peck’s Corner. Dave eventually changed direction and showed up there the next morning — looking for his lost GPS.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.