I love Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. While it was a story intended to entertain children, it is such an excellent literary work, even as an adult I love to read and reread it. There is a never-ending line of one liners and passages that speak to life and the pursuit of it.
A couple of my favorites, and there are many, are:
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Ain’t that the truth. I love that Cheshire Cat.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
With any luck, that is the truth.
But the one I want to land on today is another from Cheshire Cat.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice: “I don’t much care where.” The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”
If you don’t have any idea where you want to end up, then it doesn’t much matter which path you take. You are bound to end up somewhere. It just might not be anywhere close to where you had wanted.
Sometimes we look up and find ourselves in a situation we never intended. We look around, unsure of how we got to the place we currently find ourselves. But at some point, we chose a path. We stood at a crossroad and we made a choice.
And then another and another.
We didn’t particularly want to end up at our current location, but neither did we take steps to ensure that didn’t happen.
I don’t only find life truths from the Cheshire Cat. Andy Stanley, Pastor of NorthPoint Church in Atlanta, has some decent thoughts, too. Andy said in a sermon series once, “Direction, not intention, determines your destination.”
It is the path you choose, not your intentions, that determines where you end up in life.
Let’s make this simple. Let’s say I intend to have a clean house. But if I choose the path to the couch with the TV remote at hand, instead of the path to the broom closet where my cleaning supplies are, my final destination will not be a clean house… even though my intention was to have a clean house.
How about another one… If Matthew and I, as young parents, had intended to have well behaved, obedient children who honor us and love Jesus, but we chose the path of inconsistency, no boundaries, poor example, dishonoring of each other, and religious hypocrisy we would likely be visiting our four social malcontents in prison today.
Good intentions on the wrong path still end up in a bad place.
We have to decide today where we want to be tomorrow, and take steps today to get us there. In other words, try asking yourself, “What am I doing today, to get me where I want to be tomorrow?”
Let’s say you want to be a good wife. Maybe there are improvements that can be made in how you manage your role as wife. I think we could all say that there are areas we can improve. We have to chart our course today.
Maybe your spouse would really love it if there was a healthy meal on the table each night for the family, and you have decided that would be your responsibility. But instead of that actually happening most nights, you find that you spend so much time on social media that there isn’t much time for healthy meal prep, and you end up ordering out most nights. It’s time for a change in direction. You intended to prepare a meal, you still provided one, but it wasn’t what your spouse and you agreed upon. Deciding to turn off the computer in time to plan and prepare a nice meal might go a long way in mending a fence with a disappointed spouse. It would be the right direction or path.
I have a friend who helps me stay on one particular path. Every once in a while she’ll text me and ask, “How’s the book coming?”
For me, that can be a path changer. The book is coming along fine, when I choose the path of working on it. I intend to get it published, but unless I make choices today to make that happen “tomorrow”, then it never will. Sometimes a word from a friend is all it takes to help us get on the right path.
But sometimes it takes a tragedy or an unbearable circumstance. Sometimes we get to the inevitable end of the path we chose and find misery there.
Thankfully, we can change course. Oh, we may have to wade through some muck and slosh though some mire, but the right path? The one that will get us to where we need to be in our lives? He’s marked it out for us. Those things we are supposed to be doing? He planned those things eons ago.
Good intentions are… well you know what they say about good intentions.
In the words of the Cheshire Cat, “Where do you want to get to?”
Choose well your path.