There were two girls in Atlanta who formed a strong friendship that lasted through junior high and high school.  They took classes together, participated in many of the same activities, socialized together, and even attended church together after they both made a commitment to Christ as ninth graders.

When they graduated from high school, they joined some other friends on a graduation trip to Daytona Beach, Fla.  The hotels were full of kids just like them—free from high school, free from responsibility, and free from parental restraint. Naturally, it quickly turned into a giant party scene.

One of the two friends, intent on celebrating and letting loose, plunged happily into the revelry.  The other young woman, however, held back.  She was uncomfortable with what she saw—the alcohol, the drugs, the promiscuity.  God had been working in her life the last few months, and her commitment to Him was growing stronger. Somehow she knew this was an important choice for her.  So she avoided the party scene as much as she could.

A few days after returning home she left on another trip—to a giant student conference in Dallas, Tex., sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ.  It was a life-changing experience—a time when she caught a glimpse of how God was working around the world to draw people to Himself … and a time when she recognized how He wanted to use her in that movement.  She remembered what she had seen at Daytona Beach, and didn’t want to follow that path.  She knew that she was choosing a different world, a different direction for her life.

To say she was “involved” with Campus Crusade through her college years would be an understatement.  She jokes today that she majored in Campus Crusade and minored in elementary education.  After she graduated she joined the organization as a full-time staff member, and today remains as committed as she was during that week in Dallas years ago.

As you may have guessed by now, she also became my wife.

For a number of years, Merry wondered what happened to her childhood friend, whom I will call Karen.  After that week at Daytona Beach, Merry and Karen saw each other a few times and then drifted apart.

Then, about 15 years after they graduated from high school, Merry received a surprise phone call from Karen.  As they caught up with what had happened over the years, Karen told a sad story of failed relationships, alcoholism, and drug abuse.  She clearly was not happy with the direction her life had taken.

Merry remarked that she was a bit surprised, because during high school Karen did not appear to be on that path.  “What happened?” she asked.

Karen replied, “Remember that week in Daytona Beach?”  She didn’t realize this at the time—she just thought she was having fun—but the choices she made that week started her on a dangerous path.  One choice led to another, and then to another, and the longer she stayed on that path, the harder it was to step off it.

In many ways, life is a series of choices.  Some of these choices announce themselves with the blare of a marching band, like they did that week at Daytona for Merry and Karen.  Others appear as a faint whisper in your ear.  Yet at some point it seems that each choice comes down to a simple question:  Are you going to follow the path of wisdom or the path of foolishness?

Sometimes we don’t fully realize the implications of our choices—how they will affect our future, and how they affect our relationships.  Let’s say that I return home from work, and Merry is in the kitchen working on dinner.  I sense that she wants to talk about something, but I’m tired and want to relax on the sofa and read for awhile. In my heart, I may know that I need to set aside my own desires and focus on her. Then I reason that sometimes a man just needs to kick back after a tough day at the office, and it won’t hurt her if we wait to talk.  So I disappear downstairs … and a few hours later I realize that I never did get around to focusing on Merry.

A choice like that now and then may not hurt a marriage.  But if I make that same decision the next night, and the next night, then I’m moving further down the path of foolishness.

In recent months Merry and I have heard the stories of two couples who appear to be on the brink of divorce.  In some ways, both stories are similar:  They’ve been growing apart for years, they’ve been living largely separate lives, and they don’t know how to put their relationship back together.  We wonder what choices they’ve made over the years that, in retrospect, put them on this path.  Did they start focusing on their own interests at the expense of their relationship?  Did they let other concerns become more important than their commitment to Christ and to one another?

I am reminded of the first chapter of Proverbs, which calls us to “know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity” (1:2).  Proverbs makes it clear that when we base our choices upon the “fear of the Lord”—a holy, reverential sense of humility and commitment to God—our choices will put us on the path of wisdom:  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction … My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent … do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path. … But he who listens to me shall live securely and be at ease from the dread of evil”  (Proverbs 1:7, 10, 15, 33).

So it really comes down to who you listen to when making choices.  Are you listening to God, and seeking His wisdom?  Or are you listening to your own desires, or to people who wish to lure you away from the path of wisdom?

Each day I am grateful for the fact that Merry listened to God when making those choices as a young woman.  As a result, God is using her, and He is blessing our marriage.  Her life is a reminder to me that I need to walk with her on that same path.


by Dave Boehi
Family Life
http://www.familylife.com/

 

 

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