The Greater Path
Duane Vander Klok
There are many paths people can take through life. Consider Abram, Lot, and Ruth. They are all related, but they take very different paths throughout their lives. I believe that these paths continue to be examples that are applicable to our lives today. The three paths are the Path of Obedience, the Path of Disobedience, and the Path of Redemption.
Path of Obedience: Abram
The first path that I want to look at is the Path of Obedience. In Genesis 12, God calls Abram to leave his home, country, and everything that he knows. It says, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you,’” (Genesis 12:1-3).
Abram and his wife obeyed the call of God, and a few others chose to follow them. Among them was Abram’s nephew, Lot. Over time, God blessed Abram with protection and abundant wealth. At the same time, Lot also became wealthy and gained large herds in the land. They were so wealthy, that the land could not hold them both. When their herdsmen began to fight, Abram initiated peace and suggested that they part ways. He even gave Lot the first choice of where to go.
At first glance, it could seem that Abram fared worse than Lot. However, Lot’s choice did not matter to Abram because he was not focused on where he was going, but instead he was focused on God. No matter where he went, he knew that God was with him and was leading him. He knew that God called him, made him a promise, and was going to fulfill His perfect plans. This story of obedience plays out throughout the life of Abram, and affects all of his descendants.
The path of obedience does not look at the circumstances surrounding you but instead submits to the promises and guidance of God. It does not rely on our own strength and understanding but focuses on God and His abundant provisions. When we follow the call of God and submit to His plan, it not only affects us but also allows the blessings to flow over to those around us and our legacy.
Path of Disobedience: Lot
The second path is the Path of Disobedience. Lot chose what many of us would: the land of opportunity, more wealth, and great potential. Yet what Lot did not realize was that he had turned his back on God. He began to make compromises based on his own understanding.
The story says that Lot chose for himself. He looked and on one side there were mountains and desert, and on the other was a beautiful and lush plain (see Genesis 13:10-11). It was so beautiful that the Bible compares it to the Garden of Eden. For obvious reasons, Lot chose this beautiful plain.
Scripture says the moment he left Abram; Lot began to pitch his tent toward Sodom. He doesn’t go straight to Sodom because he’s probably well aware of the sin happening there. However, with one compromise at a time, he finds himself inching closer to the city. When we read of Lot again, he’s not in the beautiful plain that he chose, but instead, he’s living in the heart of the city.
You see, that is how our enemy, the devil, works. He doesn’t just show up one day and expect you to turn away from God. Instead, it’s long-term. It’s a 5 year, a 10 year, and a 20-year plan. Satan puts all of his focus on the compromises that play out in our daily lives. It’s these choices that ultimately separate us from the promises and purpose of God. Just like Lot, who likely went to the city to buy and sell goods with good intentions, we find ourselves pitching our tent closer to sin and bad habits. Even though these choices may seem logical and good to us, John 10:10 describes Satan’s motives this way: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
So God came against Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sin. Before doing so, He sends two angels to seek out any righteous individuals. This is where we find Lot. He meets the angels at the gate, brings them into his house, and offers them food and protection. Seeing the kindness of Lot, and the wickedness of the city, the angels warn Lot of the coming destruction.
Lot, his wife, and his two daughters manage to escape. Before they leave, they are given a single command: “… Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” (Genesis 19:17). They are commanded to go back in the direction of the mountains and desert. God calls them back to the path of obedience, to trust in His provision and plans. Yet what does Lot’s wife do? She looks back because her heart was still in Sodom.
The legacy that Lot and his wife leave behind is not one of obedience to the Lord. Instead, over time it turns into one of drunkenness, adultery, incest, child sacrifice, and sin in the form of two nations that become enemies of Israel: Moab and Ammon. The path of disobedience only leads to death and destruction.
Path of Redemption: Ruth
We have all been on the path of disobedience. Scripture says that we are all dead in our sins before Christ (Colossians 2:13). We are all born sinners. Even though Abram followed the path of obedience, we soon learn that the entire nation of Israel fell away from the promises of God, and was exiled from the Promised Land of Abram. Even when they returned to the Land, and Jesus Christ came to them, they missed the greater path of all: the Path of Redemption.
Ruth was a descendant of Lot and came from the land of Moab. Her heritage was the path of disobedience. She married one of the sons of Naomi, whose husband one day dies. When Ruth’s husband and her sister-in-law’s husband also die, Naomi instructs both of them to return to their homelands. Instead of returning, Ruth stays with Naomi and makes a legacy-changing commitment.
Scripture says, “’Look,’ said Naomi, ‘your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.’ But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,’” (Ruth 1:15-16).
When Ruth made this promise to Naomi, she wasn’t just speaking empty words. She was making a bold declaration against her past, and against the legacy of Lot. She was leaving her home, her country, and everything that she knew. God didn’t call her to do this as He did Abram, but she chose to trust Him, accept Him into her life, and follow Him. In a single moment, her legacy changed as she chose the path of redemption. When we look at her legacy, it’s that of King David and one day Jesus Christ.
Here’s the point: it doesn’t matter how bad your past has been, your future can be bright when Jesus is in it. When you choose to accept Him into your life, make Him the center of your life, everything changes. Bad yesterdays and bad choices do not determine your future. John says that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).
The way that we get to the greater path, the Path of Redemption, is to confess and turn away from our sins and receive Jesus Christ into our lives. As we set our focus on Jesus, we can rest in the assurance of forgiveness, redemption, and an intimate relationship with God in this life and the next.
Perhaps as you were reading this article, you recognized that you are not on the right path. You know you’re not right with God, or you have no idea where you stand with Him, and you say “I want to be forgiven, I want to be right with God, I want Jesus to be my Savior and my Lord,” bow your head and pray these words from your heart:
“Oh God, I believe that Jesus died on the cross, and I believe His blood paid for my sins. I believe He rose again, and I give Him all of my heart and all of my life. I hold nothing back. I receive Him as my Lord, and I thank you that I’m forgiven, that I’m part of your family, and I’m on the greater path with you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
All scriptures are quoted from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated.