Winding Paths

I’ve believed it for a long time.  I’ve even used the illustration myself before.

I’m not so sure anymore.

The boy learning to plow tries his hand at running the tractor.  Completing his first row, he turns back proudly to view the result of his effort only to see a wobbly, wandering furrow.

You’ve heard it before, of course.  If you’ve read enough of my writing, you know how much I love a moral. There’s definitely a moral to this one.

Eyes on the prize.

Somehow, I’m not sure this one is as clear-cut as it used to be.

tractor-1048402_1280The old farmer takes the wheel of the tractor and turns it around, suggesting to the lad that he needs to keep his eye on the goal.  Pick a landmark far ahead and steer a course straight toward that.  Don’t look at the ground; focus on the target.  He plows a straight furrow every time.

Long term goals.

We revere men of straight paths.  Focused on their destination, they move steadily in the same direction, never faltering, ever resolute.

Is there such a man?  Perhaps.  I have thought I knew some, but I’ve been disappointed before.  We live in a world of distractions.  Even the most focused human is bound to falter, maybe even to veer off the path, given the right diversion.

We make idols of men, believing a lie. 

 Only one Man lived a faithful life of purpose, never faltering from His purpose.

True, He’s the one we follow.  Still, we take wrong turns.  We misplace our resolve.

I spoke with a friend today, sadly relating my experience of watching a life lived in a straight line for many years, only to see it veer off on a incredible tangent just as the person neared the goal. So close—close and yet so very far.

A long obedience in the same direction, only to disappoint as the prize was within their grasp.

I wonder.  Is there something wrong with the assumption that a straight line is the only way this following thing works?

When the Teacher told them to follow Him, was He asking those men to pick a target way out in the future, at the very end of their life and aim for that?  I somehow don’t think that was what He had in mind.  He didn’t ask them to pledge their lifelong service

He just said, “Follow me.”

That’s it. Follow.

I don’t have to know where the end of the road is.  I don’t have to worry about interchanges and alternate routes before I get there.  I’m not a navigator.

A follower, that’s what I am.  I’m not that good at it, but it’s all I’ve ever claimed to be.

It seems that we want to set our sights on the straight-liners, the ones who stride along, head held high, secure in the knowledge they are on the right road.  If we do, we’ll be disappointed nearly every time.

We weren’t called to follow them.

We’re only called to follow the One who faithfully followed His Father.  Every step. (John 15:10)

Probably, the furrow He plowed would not have appeared to be a straight one to any onlookers.  Certainly, it wasn’t to the religious leaders of that day.  They knew the right path.  Knew it.

But, they didn’t recognize the one He walked.  He stopped in at too many parties, got caught in too many storms at sea, and touched too many lepers.  Surely, this one couldn’t be following God!

We can’t be sure how straight the road will be from here on out.  I don’t think we need to be worried about it.

If we stick close, we’ll be able to make the sharp turns when He does.

We may not stride in with head held high.  But stumbling in with head hanging, knowing we followed all the way will be enough.

Oh.  We should probably be ready to make a detour or two to visit a sick friend—or check on that fellow in jail.

The path is not all that straight, after all.




Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
(Matthew 16:24 ~ NASB)


All the way my Savior leads me,
  Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
  Feeds me with the living bread.
(Fanny J Crosby ~ American hymn-writer ~ 1820-1915)



© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.


One thought on “Winding Paths

  1. ‘We misplace our resolve’; it’s not lost, sooner or later it will be found. HE may actually lead me to the place I’ve misplaced it and help me find and use it again. This is beautiful writing! The Lord’s detours, high places and hidden valleys are more interesting, challenging and rewarding than to furrow a straight line. In the real olden days, farmers scattered the seed.

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