Andy Stanley's book The Principle of the Path, by his own admission, is a very simple, utterly basic concept: "Direction, not intention, determines our destination." He explains this by saying that the road of life we're on always determines where we will wind up. It doesn't matter what we intended to be -- rich, famous, healthy, highly education, popular -- the path we take will determine where we actually wind up. Thus, if a person smokes her entire life and gets to be 55 years old and has lung cancer, it should not be a surprise. If a person spends all of his money year after year and never saves, then gets to retirement age and has nothing to live on, it should not be a surprise. Stanley points to several Bible verses that underscore his lessons, such as Proverbs 27:12, "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
As a pastor and counselor, Rev. Stanley has heard endless stories that began with, "Yes, I knew when I started cheating on my wife it was wrong, but..." or "Sure, I knew that borrowing heavily had risks, but..." Most people know when they are moving in the wrong direction, but they hope they will be the exception to the rule of cause-and-effect. And, yes, Stanley admits wryly, there are spendthrifts who luck out and hit the lottery, and there are people who smoke for 40 years and still live to be 90; however, they are so incredibly rare, that is why they are remembered. For 99% of most folks, the rule still applies: "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).
Similarly, just being sorry for one's terrible errors in judgment does not make the problems go away. "Forgiveness and consequences are two different things," says Stanley. "One does not override the other." Thus, God and your friends can forgive you for having an extramarital affair, but that will not keep you from dying of AIDS. Bankruptcy courts can forgive you all your bad debts, but that does not mean you still won't be broke, dishonored, and forced to start all over from scratch. Poor decisions can have vicious consequences.
When should one get back on the right road? Immediately. "To the wise, later is now," says Stanley, who advocates creating a financial, medical, and occupational plan B even before it's ever needed. "Current conditions are not trusty indicators of what lies ahead."
This book is not overly sophisticated, but it is rational, logical, and practical. There is common sense here, backed by biblical wisdom. Drawing on biblical stories, Stanley shares lessons of success and failure that were determined by which road was taken. – Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
There is often a tension between where we want to end up in life and the path we choose to get there. We fail to see that having good intentions is never good enough. Like Charlie Brown, we wrongly believe there's something to be said for trying hard. We need to understand why, in spite of our good intentions, we may have ended up at the wrong destination with our finances, our marriages, our careers, or a host of other dreams. So how do we get from where we are to where we truly want to be? The Principle of the Path is a road map to proper direction and discipline.