Image by claumoho on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Have you ever tried navigating through a maze?

Perhaps as a kid you tried to find your way in and out of a hedge maze in a park. Or maybe you visited a maze made of corn or sunflower stalks in a farmer’s field. They’re fun, aren’t they?

Mazes can vary dramatically in size. Some are so large that visitors are given an emergency cell phone number to call if they get lost in the maze and can’t find their way out!

You might wonder, is a maze the same as a labyrinth?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a difference between them.

A maze is known as “multicursal.”

It branches off into many confusing paths and surprising dead ends. A maze may have several entrances and exits. The surrounding hedges or walls are so high and dense that you can’t see the whole pattern unless you get up high in a viewing tower or balloon ride. A maze is for entertainment, a fun puzzle to try to solve.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, is “unicursal.”

A labyrinth has only one track or walkway, and it doesn’t branch off into dead ends. There’s only one way in or out. You enter, follow the path to the centre, and continue on the same path until you reach the exit. Sometimes the barriers on either side are very low, allowing you to see the entire pattern. Walking a labyrinth can be a calming, spiritual practice.

Which does Christianity most resemble, a maze or a labyrinth?

Jesus implies that it’s more like a labyrinth:

There’s only one way in, and one path to follow.

In a discussion with His disciples, He referred to Himself as “the way.” (Indeed, in its early days Christianity was known as The Way.)

“‘ Lord,’ said Thomas, ‘we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:5-6)

Jesus is telling us that there’s only one way to reach Heaven, and it runs through Him.

He says the same thing in another passage:

“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)

Jesus didn’t say that He was a way or a gate. Rather, He insisted that He was the way and the gate.

He provided proof of this assertion by rising from the dead on that first Easter morning.

By doing so, He showed us that He holds the keys to death and the grave. He alone has the map to guide us through the labyrinth of death and out the other side into Heaven.

And the way to get there isn’t a confusing array of mysterious avenues and frustrating dead ends. God lays out the whole pattern in the Bible:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus loves you and invites you to follow Him.

Have you found The Way yet?

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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