He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
What follows is an excerpt from In the Shadow of Aran by Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
Only One Way
Each season brings its own work to the farmer. After the exceptionally dry summer of ’69, and with the hay harvest finished, there was a good opportunity for the farmer to examine and repair the boundaries of his land on the mountain. There is nothing more important to the farmer than the boundaries of his farm. To have them ill-defined has been the cause of trouble and quarrelling, and the break-up of friendly, neighbourly relations in many a district. A farmer can knowingly allow his animals to graze his neighbour’s pasture, when he would never dream of robbing that neighbour in any other way. He might perhaps excuse himself and salve his conscience with the thought that his neighbour’s cattle would quite possibly in their turn be grazing his land!
Many took advantage of the dry summer to take tractors laden with poles and wire up the mountain side. It is not often that the mountain is dry enough to allow that. And indeed, even this year the men had their work cut out to find a path dry enough to enable them to take their loads in safety to the appointed place. In one exceptionally wet patch there was only one place which offered any possibility of supporting a pathway through it. It was firm here, but it meant going well out of the way to find that exact spot every time. Time and again the lads that drove the tractor tried to chance it some other way. They were looking for a short cut, but try as they might they were always bogged down. They had to come back to this one way every time – to the place where there was a firm foundation for the path.
How like this we can be in our own lives, as we try to find the true and living way! Seeking and searching in our own way, and coming to the inevitable ‘dead end’, bogged down because the way we had chosen for ourselves had no firm foundation. So much for the attraction of the ‘short cut’! There is only one way, and that way is ready prepared for us, and is there for us to use.
‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.’ John 10:1
How revealing is Christian’s answer in Pilgrim’s Progress, when he was asked what he was doing in the Slough of Despond:
Christian: Sir, said Christian, I was bid to go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and, as I was going thither, I fell in here.
Helpful: But why did not you look for the steps?
Christian: Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in.
When Christian asked why the Slough of Despond lay in the path of the pilgrims, the answer he got was that the slough represents conviction of sin. We shall have no firm ground beneath our feet until our feet are planted on the Rock of Ages which is Christ.
‘He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.’ Psalm 40:2
‘…I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.’ Psalm 61:2
‘How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word’ Richard Keen