Way and No Way

5Commit your way to YHWH.
Trust him.
He will do it. — Psalm 37:5

The word “way” is very interesting. A few years ago I recall hearing the expression “no way,” as in “no way he could do that!” It was an emphatic negation. More recently we hear the rejoinder: “Yes, way!” Odd, isn’t it, how language develops. “Ways” have been important for a long time.

“Commit your way to the Lord.” What exactly does that mean?

I remember when I was 11 or 12, my brother and I decided that we wanted to climb Lookout Mountain. Now Lookout Mountain was across the valley from our house in North Georgia, just across the line from Tennessee. It was quite a hike, though we had done it before. But today was to be different. We decided that the right way to climb a mountain was by going straight, and not following any wimpy paths. We would start at our house and plow through thick or thin until we reached the top of Lookout Mountain.

Well, there was an old vineyard just across the driveway. It would take two or three minutes to go around it walking on the road, but having sighted on the Covenant College building, we headed straight off through the vineyard. The rows ran across our path. After a little while, we decided that we could use the road just a little bit, for example to get around intervening farms.

Eventually we did get up the mountain, but we used a great deal more “way” than we had expected to, and I was certain I was going to land in the creek at the base of the mountain. All told, we took multiples of the required time and ended up at pretty much the same place we would have been had we followed the path. We were just more scratched, more sweaty, more tired, and generally short tempered.

Following a less than optimum path up a mountain for fun will cost you, but only a little bit. Life is different.

43Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but angered me with all these things, I in turn have brought that same way on your head, says the Lord YHWH. Did you not do all these lewd things over and above all your abominations? — Ezekiel 16:43

The Israelites very often thought they had a faster path to wherever they needed to go. We often wonder just why they would imagine that going after all those false gods would work out for them. It never did, yet they kept trying.

But we have a similar problem here. Don’t want the commitment of marriage? Go ahead and live together. Don’t want to deal with being part of a church congregation. Go ahead, pursue spirituality on your own. Don’t want to go to the trouble of learning? Go ahead, just see if you can’t fake it. Don’t want the trouble of earnest, unceasing prayer? Go ahead, just arrange your own way out of trouble.

But as God told the Israelites, there comes the time when all the shortcuts come home. Since you didn’t follow his way, God sends back your way on your head.

1But Saul, breathing death threats against the Lord’s disciples, went before the High Priest, 2and asked for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find any people who were of the way, men or women, he could bring them bound to Jerusalem. — Acts 9:1-2

So you get going on the way, and what happens? Well, the enemy doesn’t like people who are following God’s way so he sends people like Saul to persecute them. It’s still God’s way. The temptation is to take a shortcut, and do it our own way—one we think is safer.

But there is only one safe way.

19Now then, brethren, we have boldness to go into the holiest place through the blood of Jesus, 20which he placed as a living way through the curtain, not previously available, which is his flesh. — Hebrews 10:19-20

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

12There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is in the ways of death. — Proverbs 14:12

[Emphasis in all texts is mine.]

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