If you ever go hiking in the woods, you will notice how beautiful your surroundings truly are. You see the hand of God in everything. The trees, the wildlife, the lakes and streams. Many times, as you are walking, you encounter many possible paths that you can take. Different routes that will lead you to different places. I believe that life is the same way. There are life decisions that we all make that leads us to the road that we ultimately follow. Are you going to go on to higher education or enter the work force? Are you going to get married? Where will you live? These are some examples of important decisions that we all must make. Each path in life has different challenges. Many of these decisions are daunting. Some are overwhelming. These decisions have their own unique problems and challenges. With our Lord Jesus Christ, however, all obstacles can be overcome.
In order to understand how Christ can help us overcome obstacles, I believe we must first realize that as Christians, our Lord is present in our everyday lives. A great example is found in the Gospel according to Saint Luke. “That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him (Luke 24:13-16)”. In this example I believe that Christ wanted his disciples, as well as all of us to know that, after his glorious resurrection, he is still present in our lives. Our Lord has fulfilled his promise to liberate humanity from the bondage of sin and reconnect it to himself. We are constantly in Christ’s presence. He is with us every day. Christ is constantly speaking to us, calling us to love him. We must let him in and allow him to become part of our lives.
Christ is the source of love and happiness. In order to be able to love God, we must first try to emulate him as much as possible. We must strive to become more “Christ like” in our every day lives. To acquire traits that Christ exemplified in the Gospels. To love unconditionally, to be humble, to sacrifice for the good of others, to be non-judgmental. These are all qualities that bring us closer to God. When we obtain these attributes, we invite Christ to become a part of us. I believe we are then able to see life differently. We can make decisions and choose paths that will benefit our souls, and not our selfish nature. The Saints tell us that we are all capable of this, but it is not easy.
We are often the greatest obstacle. We act as if we know the best way to live our lives. It is as if we are driving a car, and we are tired and lost. Christ is sitting next to us. He sees that we are in trouble. He says, “Let me drive. You are tired. I know the way. Relax and let me take over the wheel”. We refuse. Insisting that we know the way. Christ will not be adamant. He allows us to make our own decisions, even if they are wrong. We must, however, submit to God’s will, not ours. He knows what is best for us. This does not mean that when we allow Christ to lead us, everything will be easy.
The Saints teach us that obstacles in life help in the development of our soul. Look at Christ’s life on Earth. It revolved around profound suffering. Our Lord’s life was filled with more anguish than any of us can imagine. He was born in a manger surrounded by animals. Was driven from his home by Herod who slaughtered all the male children under the age of two in Bethlehem. During his ministry, Christ was often ridiculed, forsaken, and threatened. At age thirty-three he was betrayed by one of his closest companions. He was beaten by religious leaders, tortured by Roman soldiers, and nailed to a wooden cross. Yet for all his suffering, he forgave, remained humble, and healed people. Saint Makarios of Optina writes, “When we bravely and quietly endure the afflictions sent to us, we participate a little, albeit not fully, in the sufferings of Christ (Letters)”.
In choosing our path, it is comforting to know that Christ is with us through all the steps in our life’s journey. I believe we must acknowledge his presence and allow him to guide us through the difficult decisions we all must make. Allowing Christ in our life is not an easy undertaking. Today, it is not a popular path. But, in the famous poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, the author states that by choosing a road, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. We must take the road less traveled. The road that Christ has made for us, because he can make all the difference. We just have to allow it.