A walk through Ludington State Park on the coast of Lake Michigan is something that all people should experience at least once in life. Though far from the most popular tourist destination and removed from the beaten path of life, it is a place of breathtaking beauty. Walking through the thousands of acres of woods surrounded by pure fresh water provokes a feeling that is indescribable. The English language lacks an adequate word to describe the sights that are ripe for the taking with every step you take.
There are many well-established trails throughout the park that will show you beauty you can’t capture with words or a photograph. As surreal and unique as these trails are, one does not really gain a true appreciation for the land until they leave the well-established trails. One may “go to the woods to live more deliberately,” but to live life to the fullest you must take it one step farther.
You must step of the path. You must leave even the “path less travelled.”
By stepping off the path you risk everything. When you choose to leave the norm, you accept the opposite. Chaos. A life directed by something other than yourself. A life without a path found on any map; a life of crawling and climbing through obstacles that can’t always be seen from a distance. The path isn’t easy. The path isn’t common. The path isn’t safe. But it’s the only path worth taking
There’s a thousand paths one can follow in life. Love. Wealth. Power. The list is endless. The unfortunate thing about any path is that they all come to an end. There is no endless path. Some may take months or years to accomplish, but one day you will reach the end. You may be able to look over your shoulder and be proud of finishing the path. You may have walked the path as well as you possibly could have, but the path does end. And an ending is a definitive statement.
Some endings are beautiful and full of meaning. Some endings make you cry and smile all at the same time. Some endings fill you with inexpressible joy and some leave you with scars that even time can’t heal. But all endings are a definitive statement. And no matter the beauty of a path, or the lessons learned along the way, an ending means that you can’t go back. You can’t do it over. You can finish a path and then use the lessons you learned to walk the next path in a better way, but you can’t go back and re- write the path you have already finished.
Ultimately, we all come to an ending. When all our paths have been travelled and “we go the way of all the earth,” and you look back on life everyone of us will have paths we wished we hadn’t taken. Parts of paths that left us with pain that never ended, paths that changed us in ways we never wanted to be changed. There’s only one way to avoid a life that has a definitive statement of ending.
Leave the path.
When you walk away from the paths in Ludington State Park you will find obstacles and you will find pain. You will also find things of beauty beyond what is there on the paths so many travel. Perhaps the beauty of the sights you see off the path is increased simply because you know how few have seen what your eyes are now seeing. There also may be many similarities off the path as there are on it. Sometimes you will question why you ever left the path.
The reason is simple, there is no definitive statement off the path. There is no conclusion, The credits will never roll. Leaving the path will free you from an ultimate ending; it will grant you the ability to live without fear of what lies ahead. No matter how difficult it may be, you can carry an absolute confidence that there isn’t a definitive statement waiting somewhere down the line. There is no ending lurking around the corner. There is an eternity of travel ahead.
Leave the path.
There’s only one way to leave the path behind, and it isn’t a 12-step process or a time management program. It is a daily choice to leave the path. It is a daily choice to step out into something you can’t fathom. It is a daily choice to follow the only thing worth following.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24.
Leave the path; follow the truth.
The reason that leaving the path is the best choice you will ever make is because truth doesn’t exist on the path. The paths are man-made. The paths are finite. The paths have a definitive statement at the end. The Truth exists off the path. The Truth calls us to follow it. Following the Truth will be hard. There will be times of great difficulty. There will also be times of great joy. But, when you leave the path and follow the Truth you leave behind the greatest enemy. Time. A definitive statement of ending. Off the path there is Truth. The Truth never ends and it never fails.
Don’t spend your life on a path chasing something that ends with a definitive statement. Step off the path and follow “The Way, The Truth and the Life.” John 14:6.