Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Two Paths
Preacher: Jenniffer Ogden
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 4:1-27 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26).
I’ve been on two very purposeful walks in my life.
The first walk happened when I was just 23 years old. It was with the girl that I was very interested in having as my life partner; my person. At the time, she was trying to choose between me and another person she had dated for a couple of years. I felt like I needed to step up my game, so I arranged a date that would end all dates. It started with a drive up to the Canadian border and to the ferry terminal that would take us to a port that would lead us to Victoria, British Columbia. She was Canadian, so this was a very good move. In Victoria, we shared an absolutely fabulous meal and conversation. But I could tell that didn’t do the trick; it didn’t set the hook. I needed more. When we left the restaurant, the weather was perfect. I asked, “Would you like to go for a walk?”
She nodded and we started out. We walked, we held hands, and yes, it was on that walk that we shared our first kiss. That walked sealed our fate and we were married six months later.
Another walk, a very different walk, happened with my dad.
I was in the basement when the fight broke out. It was loud and there was yelling and screaming and swearing. This was usual. But then there was a line crossed. I heard a loud pop and a bunch of pounding. When I ran up the stairs to see what had happened, I saw my dad covering his eye sockets with the palms of his hands. When he removed them, I could see that my stepmother had hit him in the face. As it turned out, she had balled her fists up and hit him in both eyeball sockets, leaving him days later with a raccoon like face.
Dad was furious; he knocked the bedroom door off its hinges and went in to get his revenge. I knew that this would only end up in a bad way, so I picked up my dad and hauled him out to the living room and threw him on the couch.
Each time he tried to get up, I put him back down. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I yelled, “Dad! Let’s go for a walk!” He agreed and we walked. Furiously at first, then more slowly. We walked for a few miles. And as we walked, we talked. It was the walk that gave my dad a new perspective, a new lease on how to handle things. It was on this walk that my dad told me he loved me for the very first time.
Walking on the right paths really does matter. Walks really matter. Keep your feet on the right paths, and you will be a more satisfied person.
Recalibrate: What are some of the best walks you’ve ever taken? Why were they so great?
Respond: Pray these words: “Jesus, walk with me. Talk with me. Guide my path.”
Research: Read The Power of a Good Walk.
Remember: “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Using Post-it notes, make a path around your home for your child to follow. Plant a surprise for them at the end. Travel the path together. Read The Best Adventure and talk about all the places you have been or would like to go together.
Sometimes in the middle of the night I have to wake up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Has this ever happened to you? I don’t like to turn the light on because if I do, it’s so bright that I can’t fall back asleep. So when I get up, I kind of stumble around, I shuffle my feet and use my arms to reach out in front of me to make sure I don’t bump into anything. But you know what? Almost every time, I bump into something.
Create a maze with your friends and family. See if they can make it through with their eyes closed. Let them open their eyes and try again. Which one was easier, eyes opened or closed? Proverbs says, “The way of the good person is like the light of dawn. It grows brighter and brighter until it is full daylight. But the wicked are like those who stumble in the dark. They can’t even see see what has hurt them.” What kind of person do you want to be?
“My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape your sight; keep them within your heart.”
Solomon, in Proverbs 4:20-21, is building an argument that wisdom is not merely something on a page, but something living and breathing and active. When I read these verses I can envision wisdom as a wild animal out in the middle of a field. If you have ever seen any of the BBC documentaries on animals in the wild, you may not be able to appreciate just how fast and untame animals can be as the camera-people capturing video of an animal at full stride are pinpoint accurate! In reality, it can be tough to keep your eye on an animal running across a field and changing direction without warning.
Solomon seem to think that wisdom is the same way. Which is why he tells you not to rely solely on what your eye can see, but instead keep your eyes, ears, hearts, and minds on wisdom at all times! Only then can you actually follow wisdom as it moves. Without all four parts of you focused on wisdom, you may lose it. But if you keep all four parts of you locked on, you may lose the sight, sound, or heart of wisdom, but never all at once since all parts of you are working together to keep God in focus!
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet.” When I think about the paths that I could have gone down in my life thus far, it is somewhat frightening. I look at friends I grew up with and some of them are either dead or in jail. How come that didn’t happen to me? Was it chance? Luck? I think it’s because I had a mother who made me really pay attention to the big decisions in life.
She would always say, “Kyle, live your life based on principles, not emotions.” She was right. Life is full of fleeting moments. Emotions come and go, and for some people life is made up of small emotional decisions with huge principle impact. I was blessed to have a mom who made me think about the path I would choose.
Today I want to encourage you to stay focused on the big picture. It may cost you getting to go to “that” party, or hanging out with “those” people. Yet, in the end it will be worth the temporary sacrifice. Our lives are made up of the small, somewhat un-noticeable decisions we make. If we are faithful in the small details, we will be rewarded in the bigger ones!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.