On the path of life, many things can trip us up.  We have to stay alert and know what to avoid.

©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

Dappled light dances on the trail like scattered spotlights. Illumination shines through the trees dressed in their finest green as they stretch toward heaven creating a canopy of shade and coolness.

The path appears idyllic as it weaves its way through the forest, yet in its ups and downs and twists and turns dangers await.

Deep Ruts

I notice the ruts first.  Heavy rains had left gullies, places to easily turn an ankle, stump a toe, or even take a hard fall.

When storms hit our lives, they leave deep cuts that threaten to erode our peace of mind, and potentially rock our faith.  Painful memories carve an imprint in our hearts and minds. When we’re tired, hurting or tempted on the path of life, we may hit a rut and tumble into an abyss of doubt, sorrow or fear.

Exposed Roots

Next I spot the roots sticking above the ground destined to trip an unsuspecting runner, walker, or hiker. At times, what can most trip us up is right in front of us and easily visible, but either we don’t see it because we aren’t watching, or we choose not to view it as dangerous. Staying alert and aware of potentially troublesome situations, as well as discerning things for what they really are, can prevent us from tripping on the path.

Eroding Rest

A wooden bench seat along the path looked stable, but when looking beneath it was clear the legs were dry rotted, leaving the foundation too weak to hold it – or anyone sitting on it – up. It was no surprise one day to discover the bench had broken. A leg had finally given way, tilting the seat at an angle like a teeter-totter without a base. The next time I came by, only an empty place remained where the bench once was.  The debris had been cleared but the space left empty.

No longer was there a resting place.

When things eat away at us on the inside – unforgiveness, despair, anger – we can find ourselves unstable and tilted in a way that no longer provides a safe and welcoming respite.  Inner peace is missing.

Lurking Poison

Twice on this particular trail, I’ve encountered poisonous copperheads.  But because I recognized them as venomous I kept my distance.

Likewise, knowing the character of who we’re around and choosing friends wisely can make a significant difference in how steady our walk is.

A friend once pointed out numerous poison ivy plants along the sides of the trail. I hadn’t noticed them before.  If we veered too close or left the established path, our brush with those would leave us blistered and in discomfort.

All this got me thinking that even the best trails need maintenance, but those using the path also need to be vigilant and watchful in order to avoid the dangers.

The Bible gives us some specifics about what to avoid on the path to a godly life.  Let’s look at a few of them together.

Avoid Quarreling and Strife

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 20:3 NIV

Avoid the Way the Wicked Walk

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:14-16 NIV

Avoid Gossipers

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19 NIV

Avoid Sexual Immorality

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 NIV

Avoid Misleading, Incorrect and Irreverent Teaching

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. 2 Timothy 2:15-17a NIV

Avoid Divisive and Distracting Discussions

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Titus 3:9 NIV

It’s not enough to avoid dangers on the path.  To make the walk pleasurable, we have to seek and find delight in the way we walk. 

When we are confident in where we’re heading, keep our eyes on the wonders more than the worries, and embrace the peace that God gives us on the path, our walk becomes a place of joy.

  • What is one thing you’ve noticed that was unusual or dangerous on a recent walk, run, or hike?
  • Which of these verses most resonates with you at this time?
  • How have you avoided stumbling on the path to follow God in the past?
  • In what ways are you finding joy on your walk with God?
  • What is most likely to trip you up or cause you to stumble on the path to godly living?

 The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. Proverbs 16:17 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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