E-mail Subject: “Stay between the Lines”

Thursday, October 9

10-9By Paul McCain of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

—Matthew 7:13–14 NRSV

“Stay between the lines.” This phrase, used by my brother to close a recent e-mail message, made me pause. We have shared many life stories about cars and roads. In the day before driver’s education, when parents or siblings were the teachers, I taught him to drive. (This is not something I would recommend, in retrospect.)

While learning, he did not always “stay between the lines.” One memorable occasion ended with my foot atop his on the brake pedal, just a few feet short of a guardrail.

My mind goes to many stories about him or me not staying on the pavement. However, in the e-mail, I am sure he meant something more philosophical. I think he was saying something like, “Stay out of trouble” (meaning, the kind you get into when you wander off the road or path).

I thought of the scripture about not taking the broad way (leading to destruction or trouble) and staying on the narrow path. There were times when I stepped off the metaphorical path, also. I have this mental image of a cartoon frame, with me driving a car titled “my life.” I am heading for some precipice off the road titled “the way,” with God’s foot on top of mine on the brake pedal.

I have a favorite poem called “The Ambulance Down in the Valley” credited to Joseph Malins (1895). It is about folks divided in how to solve a problem of people falling off a cliff. One group argues for helping people after they fall. The second group wants to build a fence to prevent people from falling in the first place. With the Lord’s help, we may make Responsible Choices to prevent our fall.

Prayer for Peace Path-maker, help us focus on the way of Jesus Christ when we face choices. Help us make transformative choices for peace.

Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.

Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for a blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the Spirit of Christ.

Peace Covenants Today, God, I will search for the narrow gate.

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1 Comment

  1. Stirred up many thoughts, ideas, and memories. I had never heard the poem Ambulance Down in the Valley. I liked that reference. When my children learned to drive my father, Grover Knudson, lived next door to us and taught them until my youngest was ready to drive and he was not able to teach him and I had to take over. Oh, my, I would have liked to jam my foot over his on the brake pedal:)) Thanks again and I shall try to stay between the lines today.


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