“Way” is an old-fashioned term for “road.” It’s where we get the adages “show me the way,” as in asking directions or “I’m on the way,” meaning “I’m on the road.” These days though, “way” refers more to the method of doing something, as in “show me how to do that thing.” However, when Jesus used the word “way,” he was talking about finding the right path; he said, “’I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” meaning “I am the road to take you where you need to go”—both now and for eternity.
Jesus as “the Way” signifies that he’s our compass, our direction in terms of where we’re headed in this life, especially as we chase our destiny and seek guidance regarding our assignments in fulfilling it. The twists, the turns, the roads not taken—he points the way through the maze, around the wreckage, and through the wastelands, guiding us safely to our destination. And that’s just one dimension of direction he gives…
There are other times in life when we’re at a crossroads, seeking direction for new, major-life decisions, including which career to choose, how to prep for it and then where to work. Later we need to decide whether to get married, whom to marry, whether and when to have children, and eventually, when to retire. But that’s still not the end of the choice-making.
There are even more decisions to make—those in between the major milestones, other choices which may seem less significant but are really just as impactful. We have to decide where to go to church (a bigger deal than you might think), how to spend and/or save our money, where to live or move to, whether to rent or buy a house, and what kind of vehicle to get—all decisions which affect how we live.
Finally (and unfortunately), there are also those decisions that we have to make because life has reared up, aimed its treacherous arrow and hit us right between the eyes. Perhaps there’s a health crisis and a quick decision needs to be made about treatment options or maybe a child has gone off the rails and we, as parents, need to decide how to handle it. Perhaps we have to give up a long-held dream and the thought of letting go is paralyzing because now we have to choose another path forward.
And then fear hoists its ugly head because we know, just as meds come with side-effects, choices come with consequences—for better or worse.
The good news is that there’s no decision that we face alone, whether it’s one of the joyful decisions in life—where to make our new home or which job offer to accept—or it’s a painful decision such as whether it’s time to cut our losses and move on. The fact is that Jesus is always ready and willing to show us which path to choose, which road to travel—which “way” is the right way. We don’t have to make those decisions by ourselves because there is one who knows the future and sees exactly what lies along every road and at the end of every road.
The Dead End
But sometimes there seems to be no road—we have no choices—the landscape in front of us is simply one behemoth mountain or treacherous, sinking bog or endless, blazing desert. There are no options open and we’re “stuck” in a situation that needs to change but there is no path forward. Perhaps we’ve failed in such a way that we’ve burned all our bridges—an addiction or criminal record or grimy character issue. Maybe we’ve been fired from a job or shipwrecked a relationship or earned an unfortunate reputation that can never be redeemed.
Perhaps no one is willing to give us a second chance.
Or, there might be no options available at all due to no fault of our own. It might be that we’ve experienced some sort of prejudice which has limited our opportunities: sexism, racism, age-discrimination, religious or political intolerance. Or maybe the roadblock is that we don’t seem to have the innate abilities we need to accomplish what needs to be done—we have a learning disability that makes school or college seem impossible or we don’t have the patience to make it through one more day with that difficult child or spouse. It may be that we simply don’t have the money or resources to make ends meet, no matter how hard we try.
Perhaps there is absolutely, positively, no conceivable way to make that impossible dream happen. It’s a dead end.
I remember many years ago, back in the day after my husband and I had had our second son, we were still living in an apartment—after ten long years. I longed for a house of our own but we didn’t have the resources to get one; there were too many obstacles in our way. And I’m not talking about just one problem—there were three major reasons why no bank would even consider us for a mortgage. First, we had no savings for a down payment or closing costs. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Every time I managed to save some cash, some unexpected expense would pop up: once our car died, never to be revived, and then there were the medical bills after our second son was born. In addition, because of some of unresolved issues with our credit, our scores were less than stellar. Then, on top of it all, my husband was self-employed and the business wasn’t yet showing a consistent profit, so we couldn’t prove that we had the income to repay a loan. In short, we were a “credit risk” and no bank would touch us.
It was a “Red Sea” season in our lives. No way forward—just stuck.
Then one day at the ad agency where I worked, I found myself talked into going to see a house for sale, strongly urged to do so by a client who had no idea of our financial limitations. And being that I was too mortified to explain the impossibility of our situation, I went, more to be polite than anything.
It turned out that the house would have been ideal for us. The two bedrooms that my young sons would’ve used had already been decorated for young boys; the one for my three-year-old was painted blue with Sesame Street characters on the walls and the other for my six-month old was painted light green with teddy-bear border paper. The yard was fenced in and there was also a deck and a pool, not to mention a family room and a new roof. It was perfect, exactly what I’d been hoping for—and I was heartbroken. We could never get a house like that. But the real estate agent who was showing the house didn’t know that and she chattered incessantly about having my husband come and look at it and down payments and closing dates… Finally, I had to stop her. With a red face, I confessed our financial woes with cash flow and credit and banks—and that’s when the impossible happened. She said, “I can help you with that.”
Long story short, she did. I worked on getting our credit issues cleaned up and she worked with a real estate lawyer who rolled over the up-front costs into the loan at a bank they knew of which would work with us. Three months later, on a hot September day, we moved into our beautiful new home.
Sometimes in life there is simply no way—until God blazes that trail—through the starless, black midnight; through the endless, crashing waves; through the smothering, gray fog of life—pointing the way to the shining road of purpose and destiny. As Churchill like to say, “Never, never give up.”
There is a Way.