I’ve always tried to look at life as a road to adventure; you never know where the next branch in the road will take you. However right now, I’m beginning to wonder when the road to adventure became a maze I seem to be traveling through. At times I feel like the guy that said, “I thought I saw a light in the tunnel (of life), but it turned out to be a train heading towards me.” In other words, life often doesn’t take us where we expected to go or in the way we expected to get where we are right now.
At times we are tempted to just give up on the journey. After all we have paid our dues; put in our time; done our duty and all of those other catch phrases we might choose to use. I was reading a fiction novel awhile back and read a line that has stuck with me. The author said, “A man doesn’t just do what he wants, he does what he must.”
That’s a lesson which has been lost on much of our world today. What makes success? Often it is doing what you must, not what you want! What makes a hero? Again it is doing what you must, not what you want. What makes you successful in your relationship to God? Sometimes it is doing what you must, (What you know you should do); even when it is not what you want to do.
The problem is for most of us have is to learn to love what you know you should be doing. I never implied it would be easy because it’s not! It’s a daily struggle to take as the poet said, “the road less traveled,” the road that the world avoids because it’s hard and sometimes bumpy.
I often don’t care for The Message, which is a paraphrase, not a translation of the bible, but I thought it captured the essence of the struggle the Apostle Paul was going though in Romans 7:17-25. He wrote there about the same struggle we face today: “But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
The answer to the problem is Jesus Christ. It seems appropriate that in the next chapter (Romans 8:28) Paul writes these words, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
May God grant you the road, not less traveled, but perhaps less bumpy! But the bottom line is that “A person doesn’t just do what they want, they do what they must.”
Russ Lawson is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with his column Today’s Challenges. He is semi-retired and an elder at the Mid-County Church of Christ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.