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Prep matters

There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.  (Matthew 7:13-14 VOICE)

Do you know anyone who walks so close to the line that they are actually trying to straddle the line?  I used to jump up on any surface like a curb, short block fence, or even a log across a river just to see if I could make it across without falling off.  It was like being on a balance beam - really requiring focus and attention to where or how you planted your next footstep. I even used to jump up on the beam in gym class because of my fascination with it.  When the "beam" was the curb, I didn't worry about stumbling back down on the side where there was a level surface, but when it bordered a flower bed full of thorny roses, it wasn't so pleasant to lose my balance and fall to that side.  While up on the balance beam, I didn't want to fall because the mats may have blocked a little of the impact, but not all of it.  It usually left a mark!  In life, there are a whole lot of things which are actually like that balance beam - one misstep and you could find yourself totally on the opposite side of the line than you wanted to be on, nursing your wounds, and wondering why you ever chose to follow such a precarious "line" in the first place.

I believe it was one of the boxers or fighters of our time who said something about watching someone trying to walk in a straight line.  He said he would walk in a zig-zag pattern every time just because the other guy was trying to walk a straight line!  At least he was being honest about how he planned on rebelling!  Some of us are just as stubborn - we see the straight line and then we choose to walk everywhere else but according to that line!  Why? We want our own way, or the "challenge" of seeing how close we can stay to the line without actually having to "follow it".  In school, they made us line up before recess or movement between one place to another.  We usually had an order to which this line up was to occur, as well.  It was like having a "system" we followed to ensure "order" while on our way to wherever it was we were going.  One of us would surely get "out of line" on occasion - requiring the teacher to remind us of the importance of keeping our hands to ourselves, not touching something we weren't supposed to be touching, etc.  To me, it was probably more of a challenge to the teacher than to us!

In life, I wonder if God looks at us trying to stay on a straight course and if he ever thinks about how much of a challenge it is to keep us in line?  If I were God (and I am not), I think I would look at some of us and declare it too much effort!  That is probably why I will never be God!  It isn't about straddling the line, being so close we can actually see the perils on the other side, or about what we can or cannot touch while trying to stay in line.  It is about trusting God to get us to our destination along a course he has already designed for us, without us wanting the easiest way possible all the time.  When the teacher would let us just "go", we managed to bowl over each other, knock over a few chairs in the process, and generally leave a mess in our wake.  That is exactly why she made us line up!  She knew the mess which would ensue!  God is ever-mindful of the mess we will make of living life by our own set of rules, so he gives us a few to help us avoid some of those messier moments.

A few months back, my BFF and I were able to escape to the north country of Arizona for a little time away from our daily routine.  We like to hike, but we don't like those crazy hiking paths that are too challenging.  We seek out the easy to moderate paths and follow those. We have taken some more challenging ones in our ventures together, but we don't do it on a routine basis (nor is it usually "on purpose").  One thing we have learned is to do a little study before we go.  We look at the hiking trail maps and posted signs.  We learn "up front" whether it is going to require us to be a little more "fit" than what we actually are!  Not every path, even the well-marked, well-worn ones, is meant to be followed by just anyone who comes along with some sort of whim to follow it.  Some of those paths will require a lot of effort, stamina, and preparation to actually navigate!  When we realize that before we go down that path, it is much better than finding ourselves in need of a rescue somewhere down it!  Just sayin!

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