... But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13b-14
In the Middle Ages, if you wanted to get closer to the Lord, had a small fortune, and a few years during which you weren't doing anything, you made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Average people who couldn't afford such an investment of time and money walked a different path: the Camino de Santiago.
Although the trek is known by many names, every path ends up at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish city of Galicia. Even today, the traditional, final resting place of the apostle, James the Greater, is a popular destination for cyclists, hikers, and present-day pilgrims.
Resurrection Sunday, two years ago, Denise Thiem of Arizona, was making that walk. She had quit her job at PetSmart's headquarters and set aside 90 days to make her solo hike.
It was an adventure Thiem never finished, and there is a reason why.
The reason is not that Thiem's feet couldn't take the strain; nor was it because she was not physically up to the walk. She was. It was not the water; it was not the weather; it was not that she ran out of time.
No, the reason Thiem never finished her journey was because she was misled by a fake trail marker -- a marker which had been set up by Miguel Munoz. Anybody who followed that marker was directed away from the saintly path and toward the small farm of Munoz.
Thiem followed Munoz's marker.
Munoz ambushed the 41-year-old woman, robbed her, beat her, murdered her, and buried her.
Eventually, Thiem was missed. The police discovered Munoz's deception and the shallow grave in which he had tried to cover his crime. He was tried and two weeks ago; a jury found him guilty of murder. As of this writing, the judge has not yet pronounced the punishment.
A tragic story? Absolutely. It is made even more so when one realizes that story is repeated numerous times every day.
No, I don't mean there are multitudes of individuals being mugged and murdered somewhere on a path in Spain. I do mean there are a great many who make a good start toward heaven but, somewhere along the way, someone misleads them. Rather than remaining faithful to the route the Lord has set down in His Word, they are seduced by shaky, second-rate human wisdom.
And they never get to their destination.
Far better to follow Paul's example and press on to the goal God has given. Following the Savior, trusting in His blood-bought forgiveness, and relying upon the Holy Spirit and the Word, we shall unerringly reach the goal God has graciously prepared.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me safe on the path that leads to heaven. Let me trust You and reject the false pathways laid out by those who would deceive us. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.