The Narrow Path

Written by Drew Naumann

Psalm 94:18-19 If I say, “My foot slips,”Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

Two summers ago, I was blessed with the privilege of embarking on a mission helper trip to Nepal. One of the highlights of this trip was an eight hour hike up to and back down from the village of Hattiban. It was an absolutely exhausting hike riddled with various dangers. But hiking in a very mountainous country such as Nepal, the chief danger was falling. For many hours of the hike, one side of what can only very loosely be referred to as the “path” was nothing but a moss covered rock face. The other side, a vast nothingness descending about one hundred feet below. On top of all that, portions of the hike were traversed over clay sediment which, when damp, became very slippery. Unfortunately, everything in Nepal is perpetually damp.

By the grace of God, we all arrived at and returned from our destination safely. But there were many slips. No one fell, but there were many times for every hiker when a foothold was not as strong as you thought it was and hands would shoot out to grasp roots or bushes to catch yourself. Exhaustion has a way of making one less aware of their surroundings like that.

Have you ever experienced something like this? I imagine that some of you may have hiked in some relatively treacherous terrain before. But I believe I can say with absolute certainty that all of you have had “slips” in your life. A slip in your faith, when you start to question God’s plan for you. Or a slip when you knowingly disregard God’s Word and will for your life as a Christian.

Sometimes, the slips are something you can’t control. You are moving along through life with an air of complacency and your parents get in a fight. Or a friend or loved one becomes dangerously ill. Maybe you didn’t get that job or do as well on the test as you wanted, even though you studied a lot, and you ask “Why God? How could this possibly be for my good?”

Other times, your slips are self-inflicted, knowingly transgressing God’s law. You say that hurtful thing that you know you should not have. You go to that website you know you have no business being on. You let your mind wander in church or during chapel and you don’t give God’s Word the respect and attention you know it deserves. “You tell yourself, “I’ve heard this before” or “I’m a good person most of the time, but I can’t be good all the time”.

It happens so often, even daily. We are just going along, seemingly minding our own business and our foot slips. It is inevitable. The sin in the world and within ourselves was brought forth when Adam and Eve first sinned and the human race has been falling all over the place ever since. Our feet slip and we feel our faith wane when we take our attention from the path and become distracted from God’s Word, when we wonder if that even really is the right path and question God’s love and when we just plain put our foot where we know it ought not to be.

And when we feel that ground beneath our feet start to give way, instinct kicks in and we reach for… well, what do you reach for? When troubles crop up and your faith is tested by earthly and spiritual matters, what do you reach for? Many people reach for their wealth. Others trust that their good looks and genial nature will see them through. More still look to themselves to make reparations for past sins and vow to spiritually strengthen themselves by empty words and deeds.

Those people will assuredly fail, for nothing found in earth or man can provide any solid footing or support. They reach for a weed to steady themselves and find the roots dry and withered and unable to help, unearthed by the slightest pull. They fall and we too, would fall. Were it up to us to steady ouselvelves and restore our own slipping feet, we would plummet and crater into the depths of hell.

But we do not fall. As the Psalmist in our text writes, “If I say, “My foot slips,”Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” When our feet seem so ready to fail us, the Lord stretches out His arm in mercy, granted for the sake of Jesus’ innocent death on the cross. By grace alone, God continually lifts us up, despite our own sinful, self-destructive nature, and sets us back on the path. When exhaustion over Satan’s siege on our souls makes us weary, the love of Christ ensures our safe passage through this life by restoring in us the new man and teaching us to bury the old Adam. His Word shows us the dangers that lie in wait for our souls and grants us the knowledge and strength to avoid them. And when we inevitably stumble once again over our sins, the Everlasting Arms lay waiting to gently bear us and return us to God’s side.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Are the worries in your life too numerous to count? Do these distractions, these pitfalls, seem to turn your walk in life to a walk through a minefield? Sometimes it can be difficult to look down the path of life and not think, “I’ll never make it”. Take a page from the Psalmist: “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

When we turn to God’s Word as a balm for our distress, we don’t need to look far to find His comforts. The entire Bible is, from Genesis to Revelation, a Testament to Christ’s love toward us, chock-full of His wonderful, uplifting Gospel for the delight of our souls.

Matthew 11:28-30, “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Or, keep close to your heart this absolutely packed section from Romans 8 beginning in verse 31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Hear once again our text: If I say, “My foot slips,”Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

The evangelist Charles Spurgeon made these remarks concerning these verses, with which we will close our devotion, “The danger was imminent, it was upon us, we were going; the peril was apparent, we saw it, and were aghast at the sight; our own heart was failing, and we concluded that it was all over with us; but then came the almighty interposition: we did not fail, we were held up by an unseen hand, the devices of the enemy were frustrated, and we sang for joy. O faithful Keeper of our souls, be thou extolled for ever and ever. We will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in our mouths.” Amen.

TLH 518 v. 1-3