The Tale of Two Roads

I grew up in a town called Cottage Grove, Oregon. Many there worked in the timber industry. I come from a long line of loggers, road builders and log trainmen. My grandfather, my father and my brother all worked their entire lives in the woods. I even worked in the timber industry for about eight years in a plant that made glulam beams (Glued laminated timber beams). Growing up, on weekends we spent a lot of time out in the woods. Whether it was deer hunting, gathering fir cones to sell or cutting firewood; those are some of the most precious memories I have of times with my family.

Dad 2My grandpa Norm had a reputation as one of the greatest logging road builders in Oregon history. Western Oregon is known for its rugged terrain. It was said that Norm Bachelder could build a road to hell and back if he needed to. Sometimes even the best of roads would be damaged by mudslides and extreme flooding. I remember seeing some of the damage of the great flood of 1964. Whole bridges were wiped out. The devastation was quite troubling to a young lad of six. Now if you will, let me create a scenario and draw an analogy.
Norm 2In the woods, the foreman for the fallers (the person who cuts down the trees) and the buckers (the person who cuts the log into lengths after it is been felled) is known as the Bullbuck. So, let’s say I was a Bullbuck. I was driving down a steep, windy logging road and came around a sharp curve, having to slam on my brakes as I realized that the bridge that crossed the river at the bottom of the steep grade was out. After I slid to a stop, I would get out of my rig and survey the situation.
I would quickly realize there are two things I would need to do immediately. I would need to figure out another road to get on to find my way off the mountain, and I would need to warn anyone else coming down the same road. There was another road I could take. It was much narrower and a lot rougher, but it would get me to where I needed to go.
After radioing in to the mill about the bridge, there would be the immediate need to warn anyone else coming down the same road. As I traveled up the road I came across a log truck fully loaded with logs. He was driving a much bigger vehicle and, given the fact he was traveling downhill, there would be way he could stop when he saw that the bridge was out. I must quickly lean on my horn and flash my lights to get him to pull over. Once he stopped, I would tell him the situation and recommend this other road that would get him down the mountain to the mill.
By then, it would be late in the afternoon and my crew would be done for the day. They would all crawl in the crummy (a loggers bus or van) and begin to head down the road. After lining out the log truck driver I had met, I would head up the road frantically to intersect my crew on the way down the hill. I would, hopefully, manage to get them to pull over and alert them that the bridge was out and the road was no longer passable. I would tell them they needed to get on this other road that is rough, crooked and takes longer, but it was the right road to be on. After we would put out the proper signage to alert anyone else on the road, we would head down the secondary road back to the mill.
032Now, if you’ll allow me to draw some analogy. I would like to ask you to have the courage to read the rest of this story. The first road in the story actually represents someone’s life. Life is a very precious thing. One of the things that makes it precious is that, for all of us, it will come to an end someday. Some of us will have a long life, while others will have their life cut short like my little brother David, who was killed on a motorcycle at 14. The question is, what road are we going to be on? Forty years ago I decided to change the road I was on.
After the loss of my brother when I was 16, I began to think seriously about my life. You see, I was supposed to go with my brother and ride on the back of his Suzuki 185. Just before we were to leave, I told him I wasn’t going to go with him. Surprised, he inquired about my change in the plans we had made together. I shook my head and told him I didn’t know why. He said, “Well okay, I’ll see you later.” That was the last time I saw him. About two weeks after the funeral it hit me. I was supposed to be on the back of David’s motorcycle; I should be dead. I realized I was spared for a purpose.
PICT0136 - CopyFinally, at 17 years old I surrendered to that purpose. The purpose was a Person, and His name was Jesus. (By the way, this is where the courage to keep reading comes in.) I gave my life wholly over to following Him and it was the best decision I ever made. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh here we go with that Jesus stuff again.” Please hear me out. For one thing, I have been noticing lately that many have received a poor representation of what Jesus is really like and who He really is. I would like to apologize to you if you are one who has received such a misrepresentation. Taking this new road is the most incredible thing that has happened my life. He took a shy, rejected, fearful young man and changed him dramatically. So much so that I went from shaking uncontrollably giving a speech in English class to walking on stage at my high school graduation to pray for my class in front of a thousand people with absolutely NO FEAR.
And now to the main point of the story. Just like the Bullbuck felt an overwhelming drive to warn his friends of impending danger if they stayed on the same road, I am here to warn others that if they reject Jesus’s offer to pay the price for their sin, rebellion and pride, the road they are on will ultimately lead to destruction. I know this is sobering to think about. But it is true.
As the Bullbuck heading back up the road, what kind of a horrible person would I be to just wave at the log truck driver and wave at my crew as they headed towards certain destruction, as they would crash at the bottom of the hill? You may not like me for saying this and you may think that Christianity is horrible and you have lots of good reasons why you don’t need God. But I’m here to tell you that… THE BRIDGE IS OUT!!! Jesus wants you to know that there is another road that is a narrow winding path compared to the 6 lane freeway that most people are on.
I remember a story my dad told about a conversation with a fellow logger. They ended up talking about life after death and the logger made this statement, “Oh there’s nothing after you die. You just go into the ground and it’s over.” My dad told him that, actually, it’s not over, it’s just the beginning. The beginning of an eternal existence. Everyone is going to live forever somewhere. Ultimately we get to choose.

005 (2)This is what Jesus said about the two roads in life and the gate to access those roads:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” (John 10:9)

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
“Jesus said, ‘There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
‘Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

‘But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ ‘Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.”

“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Jesus talked more about Hell than He did Heaven because He does not want people to go to that horrible place. He wants them to know that He is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world and wants to take away their sin.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Many think they aren’t having a problem with the road they are on. It seems like everything is fine. Actually they are having a good time and sin doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But ultimately someone’s got to pay for the good time. It’s like if someone were to check into a five-star hotel and run up a big bill enjoying all the luxuries. When they check out, someone’s got to pay for all that. It’s like in the Disney movie Pinocchio when all the boys went to Pleasure Island. At the end they had to make payment for their fun, and that payment was ultimately slavery. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) It’s like we were in prison on a death sentence and Jesus came in and made us an offer. He said if you will, I will pay for your sin, or you can pay for it yourself. It’s your choice.

Many would say to themselves, “I could not serve a God who would send someone to hell.” Please understand something. Jesus has made every provision, by His death and resurrection, for us not to have to go there. God has never sent anyone to hell. If they go there, it’s because of their own choices and decisions of the heart.A-man-cant-be-taken-to C.S. Lewis said, “A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell; you can only get there by your own steam.” Others might say, “What about those in remote places of the world that have never heard about Jesus and his free gift of salvation?” They actually have nature as a witness. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20) Every time someone looks at a breathtaking sunset, amazing landscape or a starry night; that is a witness to their heart that He is there, He is real, and He is calling.

Some would say, “But I know really, really good people who have not turned to Jesus. What about them?” The best person on the planet that turns away from Jesus is still determining to pay for their own sin. God will not violate a person’s free will. We all get to choose.

A great man named Jim Elliot, who gave his life for this message, said this, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

But the point is not just to keep us out of hell, it is to let you know that God has an amazing life ahead for you. Jesus said, “The thief’s (the devil) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus) purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)
First, there is heaven. When we let Jesus pay the price for our sin and accept Him as our savior, we have our destiny changed. It is changed from a forever torment in a horrible place, to the most incredible existence imaginable. Heaven is so much more than we can even imagine now.
There is a scene in one of my favorite movies called the Hobbit. In the scene, Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves come out of a cave and see the city of Rivendell for the first time. Bilbo is awestruck at his first sight of the magnificent city. Our first glimpse of heaven will be a billion times greater compared to Bilbo’s experience. We get to be with Jesus forever in the most wonderful place, with no more pain, suffering, grief or tears.

Then, we have the promise that God will be with you every day as you live on this earth. Psalms 23:4 says, “He promises to walk with us and yes, carry us if need be.”

When I was 17, He spoke to my heart and said it was through Him that I would have the power to be the person I always wanted to be but never could in my own strength. He has fulfilled that promise in my life. He wants to help us all become the best we can be. Not a religious, boring, harsh person like some Christians you may have met or seen.

We have to go against the flow to get on this different road. It may not make sense to our minds at first, but that is okay because this road is a road of the heart, not just of the intellect. We have to humble ourselves and lay aside our sense of self sufficiently. We have to admit that we can’t do this on our own and we need a savior.
You may ask, “So how do I get on this new road? How do I make the shift and change to a new life. Have I gone too far? Is it too late?” The answer is no. No matter what you’ve done or how deep you’ve gone, He still loves you and is offering this new life to you. Jesus wants to be your savior, but you must receive Him as such.
“Yeah but aren’t there other roads that lead to life?” No, there is only one. Neither Buddha, Mohammad, nor anyone else shed their blood willingly to pay for your access to the road that leads to life everlasting. It’s only by Jesus. “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

First you believe. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
(Romans 10:9)

Then you repent, which simply means change direction. “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3:19)

Then you receive. You receive Him as your Savior, your Captain, your King. You receive forgiveness … For everything. You receive eternal life.

Then you begin to walk in relationship with Him for the rest of your life. You just simply need to pray a prayer similar to this:

Jesus, I receive You as my savior. I repent for sin in my life and ask You to forgive me and give me a new life. I surrender my life to You and choose to walk with You in relationship the rest of my days. Thank You for what You did on the cross for me, and for rising from the dead. I receive Your free gift of salvation.

Now, it is very important to tell someone about the decision you made. If you would like to talk to me or if you would like to discuss this further, my email is mike@burningheartsmin.org or my number is 541-729-2175.

On this journey of life, I pray you come to the one who is the way, the truth and the life … Jesus!

This article is dedicated to two great loggers of the past:
My Grandpa Norm and my Dad Harold.