Across the years, I often heard my father employ the following witticism: “Choose your ruts wisely. You may be in them for many miles”. His reference was to a time when dirt roads were often the only thoroughfares. During wet periods, vehicles would sink into the wet earth and cut deep tracks or ‘ruts’. Once your vehicle wheels dropped into a pair of ruts, you were constrained to travel in that track.
The application of that analogy to human behavior is a logical progression. The Oxford Dictionary provides this secondary definition of a ‘rut’: A habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive, but is hard to change. I have heard many people despondently say, “My life is in a rut.” If your life is truly tedious and fruitless, it is a sad situation, but there is a remedy.
A conversation with Dr. John Oswald, an eminent Old Testament scholar, provided fascinating new information related to ruts or vehicle tracks. He pointed me to Psalm 23:3, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The word used here for “paths” comes from the Hebrew noun מַעְגָּל (ma’gāl), which in actuality is “an entrenchment caused by cart or wagon wheels”. Thus, these are cart or wagon tracks, ‘ruts’ if you please. These tracks were firm and compacted. Rightly chosen, they provided a good solid path for the sheep and would keep their small sharp hooves from sinking in soft earth.
In life, we have choices we must make. In other words, we can ‘choose our ruts’. We may decide, as so many do, to follow our own basic human instincts and our own self-interests. However, scripture warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).
God’s word also informs us that, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Proverbs 12:15a). But we do have an alternative. We may trust the Lord and follow His counsel knowing that “he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15b).
God’s word teaches, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death” (Proverbs 12:28). As you chart your way forward, choose the Lord’s pathway leading to eternal life!
Prayer: Lord help me to choose my ‘ruts’ wisely so that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23).
~ Brother Roy