And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:13-15 KJV)
Our personal root of bitterness affects many people. Just as a gnarly root, it reaches out to touch everything around us, defiling those nearby.
I just read of a young mother, rejoicing with her first daughter on the imminent birth of her second. She wrote so well of her labor, complete with photos (women of my age cannot even imagine!), family surrounding her when her baby girl is born, the umbilical cord is clipped and she first looks into the eyes of the child she is to love. And, recognizes the unmistakable features of Down Syndrome.
Should she be bitter toward a deity that would allow this injustice?
How about the high school senior at a fellow student’s party, held in a place designed for teens without alcoholic beverages. Yet in the soda she left alone for a moment, someone slipped a drug that fortunately left her without memory of how she endured the violent bruising and abandonment.
Where does her bitterness lie?
You doubt these? You and I both know of many others among family and friends. What bitterness is held in your own heart? Does it grow? Blooming at odd memories here or there? Does it breed new plants that spring up to trouble you, defile others?
Bitterness can. I can tell you that the young mother wrote of her experience with love and she looks forward to the beauty in her child’s life. I can tell you that the student graduated and moved on the college knowing her future was hers to build upon.
They looked diligently and removed bitterness that would have strangled their hope, their love, their future – and the future of those around them.
Let it rather be healed. That’s what they’ve chosen. The past has not been nor will it ever be undone. But bitterness has no roots.
Well rooted bitterness is hard to pull out. Touching seems to stimulate its growth. Think about it and all the worldly justifications for its existence invade memories.
And make straight paths for your feet. David knew about this.
Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. (Psalms 5:8 KJV)
Isaiah knew of this straight way.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3 KJV)
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Matthew 3:3 KJV)
Then, he met Him.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)