If I were saying this out loud, I would ask you to close your eyes and imagine. But since you’re probably reading this, that likely wouldn’t work too well. Instead, keep your eyes open, and your imagination vivid.
It’s 2:30 in the morning, and you can’t get to sleep. You’re not sure why, but as your mind keeps running at 1000 miles per hour, suddenly it runs on by something, screeches to a halt, backs up and takes another look. Your stomach has started to rumble a bit, and since you’re awake and thinking anyway, you suddenly realize that you may as well be thinking about what’s in your fridge. Specifically, you find yourself thinking about that delicious, rich, moist, wondrous, chocolate cake. You know the one… it’s got two layers, and it’s separated and iced in a delicious chocolaty whipped cream and topped in the most wonderful array of fresh strawberries and blueberries (or if you’re really lucky, it might even have a handful of haskap berries too!).
Of course, you’re well aware that if you’d ever like to go to sleep, eating an entire slice of chocolate cake at 2:30 in the morning is a bit counterproductive. But maybe… maybe just one little strawberry from off the top would be just what you need… because strawberries are good for you. But you do know better, and so you leave the cake in the back of your brain and instead, decide to go for a little walk around the house. Walking is good for your body, and you imagine it’s probably good for your restless brain too. You walk around your bedroom and down the hall. Through the living room, the dining room, the office, and the garage. As you walk around your house, feeling pretty good about yourself, you realize that you have inadvertently walked right into your kitchen. You look out the window and watch the snow falling to the ground. You look up on top of the refrigerator where your weather station is set up and check the temperature (-18.2).
The refrigerator. Since you’re awake anyway, you may as well take a look inside and make a list of things you need to grab at the grocery store tomorrow. You open the door and take a look around. You only have two eggs left. The yogurt tub is looking a bit sparse. And that cake needs eating.
Wait, what? The caaaaaake. It looks back at you almost as if to say, “Please don’t leave me in here. It’s so cold. And the onion is smelly.” Well, what’s the harm in one slice anyway? You pull out the cake, grab a small plate, and slice into this wondrous piece of heaven. One bite turns into two. Two bites turn into four. One slice turns into the entire cake… and half a tub of ice cream too.
Now you definitely can’t get to sleep.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘My way or the highway.’ I’d like to introduce you to a new phrase: ‘My way or the high way.’ See the difference?
‘My Way’ is where we start with a selfish desire, and it usually leads to a bad choice. The choice gives us a bad consequence, and the consequence leaves us with bad feelings. In our story, we start by fixating on the cake, even though we know we shouldn’t be eating so late at night. As we go for our walk, we make the bad choice of eating the entire cake. Obviously this leaves us not only with a set of bad consequences, but immediately (and again for the rest of the night) you regret those choices you made. ‘My Way’ is not necessarily a good option.
‘The High Way’ is just the opposite. You start with your desire to please God, which leads you to make a good choice. Your good choice has good consequences, and that leaves you basking in all sorts of good feelings.
So here’s another quick story.
A couple years ago, I ran into some friends up on Mount Baldy. They knew that I’m semi-active from time to time, so they asked me if I wanted to run an ultra-marathon with them in the fall. Flattered, nervous, and trying to look cool, I said “Yes” without really thinking about it. As I pondered this and slowly came out of my daze, I remembered something very important: I kind of hate running. But I said I would do it, and so I had to try. Besides, I would love to enjoy the health benefits gained along the way, and it would be fun to find and push some limits.
I signed up for the race, found a training plan, and sort-of improved my diet. And you know what? After running five days a week, after a few weeks I discovered that I didn’t hate running anymore. In fact, I really started to enjoy it! Regular time alone out in nature, endorphins pumping, and body getting slightly less rounded. It was actually in many ways kind of ideal! I would even work Avett into the program, popping him into his stroller around nap-time and jogging up and down every street in town. And four months later when the race day came, I completely enjoyed myself! Of course is was hard, but it was absolutely worth it (and I got the shirt to prove it)!
In this case, the ‘high way’ began with a desire to please God. What could be better than connecting with some of my friends around town and working towards a healthy goal together? This desire led me to make the good choice to start exercising more deliberately (well ahead of the date of the race). Consequently, I began to get fitter and healthier. I got to spend more time outside then I otherwise would have. I listened to many great stories as I ran. I even got to do a few runs with some of the coolest cats in Chetwynd. After completing, I was left with a great feeling of accomplishment, a feeling of great pain in my legs, a fun and healthy new lifestyle, and closer relationships with some great people from my church.
The Bible says in Proverbs 14:8, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” So next time you have a big choice to make, I hope you take some time to think about it. Ask yourself, “Is this coming from selfish desires within me, or from a Godly desire?”
Remember, it’s either ‘My Way or the High Way.’
You can open your eyes now.
Cake image by pixel1 from Pixabay.