A Fork in the Road

Now to Him who has power to strengthen you. . .
(Romans 16:25 HCSB)

There’s a riddle that goes something like this: While walking, you come to a fork in the road. At the fork are two men. There are no signs to tell you which way to go. You decide to ask one of the men. Here’s the catch: 1) you are allowed to ask only one man; 2) one of the men always lies, while the other always tells the truth; 3) you don’t know which man is the liar or the truth-teller.

Which man would you ask? What would be your question? Think about it for a while, and I’ll continue on with my own riddle.

Last summer I did some sailing with a fellow from whom I learned a lot about sailing as well as lots of other stuff, as he liked to talk and tell of his experiences. He told me about a trip he made down the river from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico. He ran across a couple in a trawler traveling the same way. They anchored one night together, and in the morning he said he’d anchor that evening at such and such a place, and suggested the couple may wish to do the same. He said he’d point out the anchorage on their charts. They told him they didn’t have charts. He asked how they were able to navigate the river system, that often divided and went differently than one might think. The couple said they depended upon people in other boats or people on the banks as they motored their boat along. My friend was shocked. He asked how it went. They responded that it went okay, though often they got wrong directions and had to turn around when the river branch they’d taken ended abruptly.

My friend is a true planner when it comes to trips. I think he enjoyed the preparations as much as the actual trip. He carries charts, which are maps for waterways. He plots his desired route, and faithfully plots his own position along the way. He always knows exactly where he is at any time; he always knew where he wants to go, and how to stay on route. He is never lost, never in doubt, and never takes the wrong path.

Both my friend and the couple in the trawler eventually got to the Gulf, their chosen destinations. My friend, I’m sure, took pride in his accomplishment of following the course set, and completing with the greatest efficiency. The couple, I’m just as sure, also took pride in their accomplishment of seeing things along the way, enjoying the people they met, and finding new experiences along the way.

Okay, so have you thought about the riddle of the fork in the journey? Which man do you ask? What do you ask of him?

Ah, you say you’d like more time to think about it. Okay. Just like the cliff-hanger series in the days of radio shows, “Stay tuned for our exciting conclusion. . . next time!”

Lord, help us to navigate the forks in our paths, to hope for, even long for you to be with us on our journey and at its end. May we be like the deer that pant for water, as we long for You. Thank You, Father, for Y’shuaJesus. AMEN.

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