This is part two of a blog series on finding the narrow path in every situation of life. This week, Jon explores what it looks like to ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’
I am not the kind of guy who dreams a lot. I remember being at a CVM Regional Day a few years ago when Carl Beech said that there were two things necessary for a good night’s sleep: a soft pillow and a clear conscience. I am convinced that I have had more really great nights of sleep for taking that advice than I would have otherwise. That said, for a number of months I had been having a recurring dream, I might even call it a recurring nightmare. Every night it was exactly the same!
The dream went like this…
I would be driving along the M6 motorway and as I passed one of the services I would look down to my dashboard and see that I only had enough fuel for the next twenty miles – every time the next services would be twenty-one miles away. As the dream progressed, clearly my fuel gauge would get lower and lower. Then, I would literally be a couple of miles away from the next services when my engine would begin to splutter, lose power and then cut out.
The engine always cut out with the services fuel station in sight. It always felt so near and yet so far. In this dream, I did not once make it to the fuel station. I always ended up stranded on the side of the motorway.
Over the course of the few months that I was having this recurring nightmare, I began to realise how strong my resolution was to make it to the fuel station on my own. I literally felt utterly determined to come through on this, there was no way I needed help. Whatever else happened I was the one who was going to make it right!
Yet, as I said earlier, I did not once make it to the fuel station!
At the time I told a mate of mine about this recurring dream. He asked me the very question that some of you are already asking as you read this blog – why did you not pull over into the hard shoulder and call the AA to bring you enough fuel to get to the next services safely? Why did you not reach out to the emergency service that would get you out of the mess in you were in? After all, I am and always have been a fully paid up member of the AA.
Ironically, during the same period, my car broke down twice on the M6 and I did end up on the hard shoulder waiting for help. I hasten to add, the reasons for my car breaking down were never due to a lack of fuel. However, the situations remained uncannily similar.
As I stood on the side of the motorway, waiting to be rescued, I could not help but think through many of my personal life choices both good and bad.
A few years ago, I heard a Christian speaker say that he was not only incredibly grateful to Jesus Christ for rescuing him in a very dramatic moment of enlightenment, but he was also grateful to Jesus for saving him every day since that first ‘Damascus Road’ moment. This speaker was very aware of the Gospel story of Jesus going to the cross, paying the penalty for all our sins, and bringing us back into a healthy relationship with God. However, he was also equally aware of his need to be rescued every day, the need to choose Christ every day, the need to realign all of our lifestyle with God and walk in the direction of the narrow path.
Throughout my adult life, I have battled with my determination to ‘come through’ in life. I have often leant on my own understanding rather than trusting God with all my heart, I have sometimes struggled to align my ways with His ways and therefore remain straight and true on the narrow path. But here’s the thing, I also know many more blokes who have battled with that same determination, than other blokes who have found it easy to live out Proverbs 3:5-6 consistently.
I do take heart from the fact that there are many of us living with this same strong self-determination. We are not in the minority and we are certainly not on our own.
I do not have the recurring nightmare anymore, and that is simply because I am becoming more and more committed to embracing my own responsibilities but, crucially, doing it with the determination to live the life that God has chosen for me – it is seriously better than choosing my own path in life. In a way, it means that I fill the car with fuel, and I do everything to ensure that it is fit for purpose. But in those moments when the car takes me by surprise and I am tempted to work it out on my own—I don’t. I get the help I need before I get stranded.
To me, that is what it looks like to find the narrow path that leads to Life. Yes, we all accept our own responsibilities, but given that we can all have access to the Sovereign God of all the Universe who wants to help us along the way—why would we not ask for help?