My two sons-in-law recently took a couple of my older grandsons on a kayaking trip down a river. In spite of some scrapes and bruises from trying to navigate over one area of rapids, it sounds like they had a great time. On several occasions they had to deal with fallen trees blocking their way. I understand that in one or two of those situations when it involved smaller trees, one of my sons-in-law surprisingly pulled a machete out of his kayak and started hacking away at those obstacles. It took some time, but he eventually managed to clear a path not only for himself but for future travelers down that river.
My son-in-law could have easily gotten out of the water to make his way around those obstructions, as many others had probably done. He didn’t have to take the time and effort, even putting himself at risk, to sit in a kayak and use a sharp tool to try to remove that debris. It certainly slowed him down, as well as caused those with him to have to wait patiently for him to complete the task. However, he did manage to open up a pathway which others could use and hopefully appreciate.
Sometimes we may get tired of constantly having to deal with some of the debris that we encounter as we make our way along our journey in life with Christ. Every time we turn around we run into another half-truth, another false teaching, another mischaracterization of God or His Word, or some other deception which can sometimes capsize people’s faith, cause them to stray off track, or at least slow them down for a while with doubts and uncertainties.
Hopefully we’re able to recognize those pitfalls and not let them adversely affect our journey. However, we often need to do more than simply find our own way around that obstacle and continue on our trip. We need to think about others as well. We may need to point out those dangers to our fellow sojourners. We may need to expose the false teachers who are placing those obstructions before others. And we need to take out the machete God has given us – “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) – and put it to use by proclaiming truth with hopes of removing those hindrances to people’s faith.
Sometimes we may grow weary of hacking away at the pesky vines that our society seems to want to embrace and that seem to grow back as quickly as we cut them down. Others may get impatient with us as we continue to emphasize those eternal truths which many have forsaken. And meanwhile we face putting ourselves at risk from those who will oppose our efforts. Peter thought it was worthwhile to keep reminding people of truth, and so should we. “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things…Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you…Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (II Peter 1:12-15).
It’s not just about us. It’s about those who will follow us after we’ve left this world. We need to keep upholding the truth of God’s Word for their sake. We need to keep hacking away at the lies and deceptions we encounter. We need to clear the pathway as best we can, not just for ourselves, but for those coming along behind us. Don’t just be someone who makes it through this journey yourself, but someone who helps others make it through too.