We were on a family vacation recently in Florida, and our little girl, Charlie Kate, was LOVING running around in the warm sunshine. We took SO MANY walks around the motor coach park where we were staying. The park layout was a big circle, so the other vacationers at the park would walk their dogs, ride bikes, drive golf carts, or just cruise around the circle in their newly washed cars. It was a busy place.
So Charlie and I would take off for our walk and I would have to constantly say to her, “Stay on the sidewalk.” The road was busy, and not everyone was watching for a toddling baby girl. I had to say this SO MANY times. “Stay on the sidewalk.” “Stay on the sidewalk.” “Charlie, please stay on the sidewalk.” The road is dangerous. You could get hit. You could cause an accident. You could get hurt. The road is dangerous. The sidewalk is safe. “Charlie Kate, please stay on the sidewalk.” After repeating this phrase over and over again, it finally sank in. Not for Charlie Kate, but for ME.
I finally felt just an inkling of what God must feel as he watches us grow. We take off at high speeds, just enjoying this human life. We run into the road, darting through obstacles in our way, and sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes we cause others to get hurt. Sometimes we get knocked down. Sometimes we crash. “Stay on the sidewalk, child.” “This path I have set for you is safe and so, so good.” “Child, please stay on the sidewalk.”
We have all experienced a time when we thought we knew the way in which we should go. Everyone else seemed to be going in that direction so we thought we should too. Or we wanted to do our own thing so we took another turn. But the beauty of staying on the path, or sidewalk, that God has set for us lies in the truth that it can take us to places we can’t even imagine going on our own. And our paths are not all the same.
God doesn’t want us to confuse staying on the path with, conforming to a straight and narrow sameness as everyone else. Sometimes I think we like to put Christianity in a box, and its members all have to fill this square of rules. But God made ways for us that are unique to EACH ONE of us. All we have to do is listen to His command,
“Stay on the sidewalk.”