We were standing at Lava Butte Lookout on top of a cinder cone outside of Bend, Oregon.  Six thousand years earlier, a volcano caused lava formations that resulted in the cinder cone we were standing on, with its 150 foot deep crater below our feet. The landscape was beautiful, but stark and seemingly dead.  [View of the Lava Butte cinder cone crater in Bend, Oregon ]

Lava Butte Lookout - cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon
Lava Butte Lookout – cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon

As we gazed at the horizon over the edge of the crater, it was clear that there was growth and life beyond the lava rock that had spewed from the earth so long ago.  Large trees and bushes were evident and life was going on, notwithstanding the desolation of the crater itself.

But, then, we saw, coming from the base of the cinder cone and extending far into the distance, a road, dividing the forest on either side, and with no other roads visible from our viewing position.  A long straight road, as far as the eye could see.  [View from the Lava Butte Lookout, Bend, Oregon]

View of road from Lava Butte Lookout
View of road from Lava Butte Lookout

Perhaps it is because I am currently reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, that I saw the straight road with great interest as it was reminiscent of Bunyan’s description of the right road.

MR. GOOD-WILL. … Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? THAT is the way thou must go; it was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles; and it is as straight as a rule can make it. This is the way thou must go.

[Bunyon, Pilgrim’s Progress, at {66}, obtained from The Project Guttenberg, at]

Or, perhaps it is because of reading the Gospel’s account of Christ and his teaching to those around Him that Jesus’ words about the pathway to Heaven rang in my ears.

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 [NIV]

[Picture is of the straight road we drove as we traveled from the Columbia River Highway to Bend, Oregon.]

The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.
The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian asks Mr. Good-Will if the straight road has any turns or windings that would cause the traveler to lose his way.  Mr. Good-Will responds:

MR. GOOD-WILL. Yes, there are many ways butt down [border] upon this, and they are crooked and wide. But thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being straight and narrow.

[Bunyon, supra at {67}]   We know in our own lives that there are times when there is “a fork in the road” and we have difficulty in knowing which road we should take.  [Picture was taken outside Bend, Oregon of mountains in the Cascade Range, Oregon.]

Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range - fork in the road
Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range – fork in the road

Peter, after describing those who follow “the corrupt desire of the flesh” says:

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.”  2 Peter 2:15.

The Christian must stay on the narrow road, keeping his/her eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ while not allowing the things of this world to creep into the mind and disguise the correct road to follow.

My Beloved sold surveying instruments, GPS equipment and other place positioning items during his years of employment. Thus, wherever we go, we often will find, and photograph, survey control markers stating exactly where we are on this globe.  [Picture of a survey control marker along the path by on the Columbia River Highway, Oregon.]

Survey marker reference point in Oregon
Survey marker reference point in Oregon

Geographically we can find out where we currently are so that we can confirm that we are on the route that we intend to be traveling.  If we have taken a wrong turn, the markers will help us get back on the correct road. [Pictures are of the NOAA global positioning reference station in Mississippi]

NOAA GPS informational marker
NOAA GPS informational marker
GPS positioning possible for today's traveler
GPS positioning possible for today’s traveler

While it is important to know where we are on our planet, it is far more important to know where we are on our spiritual journey.  Traveling down the wrong road will have eternal consequences, so our path is not something to be taken lightly.

Spiritually, we are not left alone to guess if we are on the correct spiritual path.  Although the road is narrow and difficult, Jesus has given us the route and He has provided His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  Scripture is our road map, if you will, for our spiritual journey.  Scripture steers us directly to God and gives direction as to how we are to live in Him.  If we need a course correction, we can learn about it by reading the Word of God and praying for guidance and understanding.

God's roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him -- the Holy Bible.
God’s roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him — the Holy Bible.

Praise the Lord that we are not alone in our spiritual pilgrimage.  The Lord’s Spirit is with us, He has given us other Christians who can encourage and strengthen our understanding and resolve, He has given us His Word for instruction and reproof, and He has given us His Body, the Church, for teaching and growth as disciples of our Lord.

Father, thanks be to You for providing us salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ and for giving us the Holy Spirit as our constant companion and friend.  I pray that You would show me the road to take, that you would make the way clear and that you would give me perseverance and strength to travel the journey you have laid out for me.  In all things, Father, may I give all glory to You and my Savior, Jesus Christ.