Monday, January 19, 2009

Not So Narrow, Really

When I was young, my church talked about staying on the straight and narrow. It was meant, I think, to be a warning that if I didn't terrible things would happen to me and that I had to be very, very careful to make sure I didn't mess up.

In recent readings of the Book of Proverbs, I've encountered the notion of path again. But I now have a much different, more loving and healthy view of what it means to stay on a narrow path.

Something I've been asking myself the past couple years, because my early experience with the Christian faith was so shrouded in negativity, fear, and anxiety, is this as I'm reading Scripture, "What is the most healthy, loving, wise, nurturing application of this truth?" I'm learning to look at the whole Word of God (not only the Bible) through lenses that believe that God is light, God is love, God is life (1 John).

So the straight and narrow? Instead of provoking anxiety, it actually reduces anxiety, because I know the loving parameters and don't have to wonder about all of the options, all of the rabbit trails, all of the sideshows (as Eugene Peterson puts it). I can be confident as the way is made clear of how my character needs to develop, what is given to me to do based on my interests and talents and opportunities, and how the ground of it all is in light, love, and life. Whatever isn't of those things (and the older I get, the smarter I get about what that really means and how and when I can tell it's happening), is just not on my path.

I stay on the straight and narrow not out of anxiety of what will happen if I don't, but because it's the only way for me to really live in peace as I do. I've experienced enough of what it means to actually be in communion, that I know when I'm not and I don't want to be there. So it can be as narrow as it wants, but that path is really the path to utter freedom to be real and at rest. It is more of a powerful call TO something than a dire warning AWAY from something. And the Caller is all good.

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