Julie Hart’s weekly devotionals are now available via the website and on our app. They are published on Thursdays and have a new name, “From the Hart”.

To read Julie’s devotionals on our app, please search “Desert Spring Church” in your app store, text “app” to 702-766-6641, or use this link: https://a3a.me/desertspringunitedmethodistchurch

“From the Hart” Devotional for Oct. 19, 2023

“A Difficult Path, A Disciple’s Path”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.
Matthew 17:1

On Sunday, Pastor David kicked off a new sermon series called “A Disciple’s Path.” He explained that this is not just a sermon series, but something that we as a church will be doing together: children’s Sunday school, youth Sunday school, community groups, etc…. It sure feels good to be going on this journey together, doesn’t it? I am looking forward to seeing how we grow together as a church over the next six weeks — all because we are on the same path.

In addition to this journey with y’all, I have recently stepped onto another new path that I am walking with a few others that I know very little about, other than the fact that they too are being led down the same road that I have found myself on. So, while this is my own path to explore, I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone.

I am geographically challenged, so I always like to know my route before heading out, and I don’t go to too many places without first putting my destination into my GPS. I want to know how long it will take me to get there, and what the backup route is in the event of unexpected roadblocks. That’s just how I travel. I suspect that some of you have the same “travel habits” that I do.

So back to this road that I am on… Before officially beginning the journey, my fellow sojourners and I were all asked to sign a covenant. The first item on the covenant was to commit to starting each day with this prayer: Holy God, Lord of the Universe continue to clarify within me how you want me to serve in your church. Amen. The second item was to hold our fellow sojourners in prayer as well, asking God to walk with them and help us learn from each other. I love this. I love starting each day asking God to show me the way. And I love knowing that we are praying for each other. Since I have been praying this prayer, I have found that I am more attentive to the signs and “nudges” that God is giving me to guide my way. It kinda takes the pressure off of thinking that I need to figure this whole thing out. I don’t need to figure anything out! I just need to ask for God’s guidance and then pay attention.

I recently received the “itinerary” for my journey (aka checklist of tasks to complete), and I had a moment of panic! The gate suddenly looked pretty narrow, and the road started looking like some very rugged terrain. I was still close enough to the start of this path, that I could back my way up to the main road and get back on the well-traveled path that I had been cruising down for a while —It was not too late to abort the mission.

Except… well, except that’s not God’s plan. God’s unfolding plan in my life sometimes takes me to narrow gates and difficult paths. That’s how I got to where I am today — by stepping off the well-traveled and predictable path and onto the narrow, difficult, and less traveled paths. The views at the end of those paths have usually been breathtaking and always rewarding. Pastor David talked about going off the well-traveled path on a hike years ago with Geri only to come to a stunning scene not seen by many others at the end of a narrow and rigorous path that they walked together.

So, as we begin this 6-week journey together, and as you travel down your own paths to unknown places, I invite you to ponder these questions with me:

When was a time in your past that you stepped onto a path that you did not know where it would lead to but knew that you were meant to walk down?
How did it turn out?
How might your life be different today if you had not chosen to walk that path?
As a disciple and follower of Christ, why do you think it is important that we travel down difficult paths in our lives?
Are you willing to commit to praying for your fellow travelers over the next six weeks as they travel this discipleship path along with you?

Join me in praying the prayer that Pastor David wrote for all of us to lift up to God daily:

Pastor David’s Prayer:
God of new beginnings, give us eyes to see your many gifts, hearts to embrace each other, and hands to serve you every day of our lives.
Strengthen the bond of love that unites us. Weaken our grip on all that keeps us from serving you faithfully.
This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.