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The Architect


An architect in America impressed me with a flash of what I regard as near genius. He had been asked to design a university campus. His design was accepted and the builders began work.

It was only as the buildings were nearing completion that the University Authorities realised that something was missing. Although the architect had put in roads and car parks, he hadn't shown any footpaths. When they asked him about it, he said that he would be putting in footpaths later and so they left him to it. He was the architect after all, so presumably he knew what he was doing.

They were more than a little surprised to discover that when the buildings were officially opened and handed over, there were still no footpaths. Lawns and flower beds were laid but no paths. The architect explained that he would lay them later.

In fact, it was over a year later before he started to lay the paths. And he started by having a set of aerial photographs taken of the campus. The photographs were a revelation. Clearly marked out on the grass were the paths made by thousands of students tramping backwards and forwards on their way to lectures, to the dining hall, to the sports fields, to the halls of residence.

The architect simply laid the paths along the tracks the students had already made. "The students are going to take the easiest route around the campus," he explained. "The sensible thing to do was to let them mark the paths out themselves, then pave them."

I thought that was pretty clever.

However, what can be a clever approach to the design of a University Campus is a hopelessly wrong approach to life. I'm speaking from experience, because we've been trying that system for years now and it hasn't worked.

It was round about the 1960's perhaps that we started tearing up the paths in society. The thinking then, was that those paths were out of date. They weren't taking people where they wanted to go any more.

The new thinking was, "Let people find their own way", and after we had discovered where we wanted to go and the way we wanted to get there, we would lay down the paths and make the route official.

But it hasn't worked, has it? We went our own way for a generation and where are we now? Soaring teenage pregnancies, the destruction of the family, the breakdown of law and order.

God's approach to life is to lay the paths down first. To say "This is the Way. Walk this way and you'll arrive safely." He does that because He knows that if we don't have a path to follow, we tend to lose our way and end up in all sorts of trouble.

Contrary to popular myth, people are looking for a path. Life is uncertain isn't it? There are so many opportunities to go the wrong way and mess it all up. Many have got themselves badly lost.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

The only hope we have of arriving safely is to follow Jesus, and keep off the grass!


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