Have You Left the Wrong Path Wide Open?

Last Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “Visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a City Park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the City Park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the City Park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to) folks still do it.

As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me.  He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say. You’re going to walk down it eventually.

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the City Park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, coble stones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk.  Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin.

Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

You’re not going to stop by Dunkin Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate covereds in one sitting.

You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend… ever again!

You’re not going to date that guy you know if bad for you…ever again.

You’re not going to look at that particular website.

You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.

You’re not going to gossip about other people.

You are not going to drink because you know you have a problem.

You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence.

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But then there’s a nice little path that you’ve keep open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smart phone.

You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.

You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.

You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.

You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin Donut store.

You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them…eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a fence. (A gateless fence)

Remove the contact.

Change the job.

Get rid of your computer.

Take a different route home from work.

Remove the bottle.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But he was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path.

Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

I’m erecting a fence post the moment I press the send button on this blog. Because now that I’ve told you about my little parking lot dilemma, I will never park in the City Park’s lot again. Just telling you about it holds me accountable.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve hit on a way for you to begin placing fence posts where those paths have been…tell someone, and ask her to hold you accountable.

22 Responses to Have You Left the Wrong Path Wide Open?

  1. Karen Anderson March 25, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    How I love this post today! Even the smallest path can lead us from the beautifully trimmed, rock lined path full of purple bursts of fragrant blooms, to the thicket filled, thorn infested mangled mess of ugly. What seems harmless can be subtly harmful to ourselves or others, our witness or our life path. Thank you for this reminder to stay the course….keep Jesus in eye, ear and soul shot…..He leads us to greener pastures and is the very light of our paths! Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my pathway.

  2. Priscilla March 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Excellent post and so true! This might seem like a silly example but years ago I was addicted to reading the comics in the newspaper, not the funny ones so much as the continuing dramas that went on and on….the only way I found to stop this time waster was not to pick up that part of the paper! I cut off the pathway. In this day and age I have to be very careful not to waste time on Facebook, twitter or just looking up how old some celebrity is on the internet when I can use that time in so many productive ways…if we are spending more time on these activities than time with our Lord we need to cut off that pathway to Facebook, twitter, texting, etc.

    • Brenda March 26, 2014 at 3:01 am #

      Ouch! Priscilla! Thank you for having the nerve to say that! How very true. I so love and appreciate how the Lord uses Sharon and her words of wisdom to encourage and admonish. What a blessing her devotions are to me.

    • Katherine Swarts March 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      There’s another side of that coin, though: if you’re as self-critical and perfectionistic as I, it’s easy to get into the REALLY unproductive habit of fretting over such thoughts as was this REALLY the best use of my time, have I done enough, is it ever permissible to surf Facebook/read a novel/just relax and let the mind wander for the fun of it … Fear of ever doing the wrong thing, or guilt for every moment spent in anything but full-speed-ahead mode, can wear a person down to the extent of killing real productivity altogether.

  3. Michelle turner March 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m putting up a non gated fence on Negative thoughts, wondering thoughts, past thoughts, judging thoughts and any other thought that is not lined up with the word of God. I just read today, ” But be now transformed by the entire renewal of your mind that you may be able to prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Out with the old and in with the new.

  4. Anne March 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    I loved the post today. Certain TV shows. Thank you. Also, could the font be larger on the blog? It’s really hard to read so small and stretching the screen means swiping left and right, up and down through the whole thing. Thank you.

  5. Katherine Swarts March 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    I have more than a few problems of my own with negative thoughts–a lot of them having to do with hating myself for not being more positive, LSYDC (that’s my own acronym for Laugh So You Don’t Cry). In my life, the right place to raise the fence is against feeling obligated to add everyone’s else’s suggestions to my own To Do list, since overcluttered task lists are not only crowding out my quiet time but stealing all my energy–and with it the will to even TRY to reinvent my approach to life.

  6. Kathleen March 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    I have a few parking lots I keep trying not to park in again. But, it’s harder done than said. And I’ve put up gateless fences and moved on. And then, when u think it’s over, done and you’ve had a victory, here it comes again. Some things are easier than others, but, I do talk to God everyday about these things, repent and get up the next morning with the belief that it’s a new day and I have a new chance to do the right thing. Some days are good and some days are not. But, God speaks in different ways, and I heard Him today through you. Thankyou.

  7. Virginetta March 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Yes you are absolutely right. We often resort back to these pathways when we are feeling weak. But we must be constantly renewed in the spirit of our mind. We must Bring our thoughts into captivity to obey God because the devil wants to have those pathways open in our lives so he can have a stronghold over us.

  8. Nancy March 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    Thanks Sharon, I do have an area where I need to put up a gateless fence. We think just this one time, it won’t matter, but it does, and just one time never works. The Holy Spirit has brought confiction through your post.

  9. Eda March 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    I’m putting up a fence today. I’m restricting myself from the thoughts that feed my mind with negativity, and make me want to sin in the flesh. I want to have thoughts of praise and worship for the Lord, that fill me with joy and more life.
    God bless.

  10. Mia March 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this post. I was convicted by your words and I deleted a particular contact from my smartphone that I should have deleted long ago. I have erected not only a fence post.but a privacy fence that closes off my easy access to that particular path. So again thank you for providing me with a divine nudge.

    • Sharon Jaynes March 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

      I am soooooo proud of you!
      Sharon

  11. Debbie March 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    Awesome post., it affects lots of areas in my life., things i take for granted. The one thing I never get for granted is my love of the Lord., he knows my faults too. I was in a destructive relationship for 3 years and was able to break free one and a half years later., at the time, it was so hard., i gave up material things, yes material things (they did not matter)., i kept my dogs and I knew if i continued to live on less and not want..material things..or unhealthy things..eventually the storms would pass.

    I am very happy to say., i just landed a full-time job., and found a new home for me and my pets.., because i perserved and was patient. God knew i would get it eventually and his little nudges kept me on the right path.
    Thank you so much for the post. blessings. Debbie

  12. nancy guenthner March 25, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    I indeed was nudged by the Lord by your devotion of leaving the wrong door wide open. I had to slam a wrong door that I have left open for several weeks that I left open after I read your post. I have went to this church for 8 years and for three years the church has went through three pastors. I have tried to fit in, belong to women’s Bible Study groups, volunteer for the kid’s Sunday School, and no acceptance. I live a 40 minute drive from the church, and people never came to visit or come over when invited. I finally realized that I do not have to stay where I am not wanted and seek the Lord to tell me where he desires me to attend. I left one wrong door open, I told the church it was a temporary leave when I know deep inside it is a permanent leave. I now will notify the pastor that it is a permanent leave due to personal reasons. I will attend this church near my home that is in need of food pantry assistance, right up my alley as I am a Human Services major at a college, and I have resource coordination skills. Also there are care groups at the church that offer Bible Studies for men and women and mixed groups. I know the Lord has sent me to this new church family. Thank you for the message, Sharon

  13. Jackie March 26, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    Thank you for such empowering and encouraging words. Sometimes I talk to much and place my foot in my mouth. I need to rest in the Lord more often. Everthing in moderation, right.

  14. Jody March 26, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    Reacting out of my own issues and flesh inside of keeping my eyes on the Lord!
    Thank you for your emails God uses them for his glory!

  15. Helen March 26, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    I really thank you I have been about to worry my self crazy because I found out that my hus and of 24 years have a younger woman over the past few years I pray but I go back and get it but I neec to put up a gate and trust God will fix that

  16. Sami April 4, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    T y I needed to read this. I too need to put up fences on neg thoughts ( sometimes on myself ( compare myself to others and there lives ) how I put myself down sometimes) also worry about the dumb things. It is just the devil putting bad thoughts in my head. Also about staying away a lot more from the gossipy/jealous people at work. And if something goes wrong at work ( even if it is something not major) I will not let it bother me.

  17. Lisa April 7, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    I continue to pray about this interesting topic. May the LORD bring not only wisdom and understanding, but unity and harmony, especially among professing Christians. Still not sure if the old adage, good fences make good neighbors, should be adopted between Christians though. God bless and protect us all in the Precious Name of Jesus Christ.

  18. Shaquanna June 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this post, it really touched my heart and gave me a better perspective on how to deal with things that I know are wrong but seem to be allowing myself to get sucked right back into.

    I never thought about it in the way of still leaving a path open to still be lead back into a particular sin or bad habit.

    I appreciate you for being first a women who allows herself to hear from God but to also be humble enough to be real and share yourself with others through these uplifting, thought provoking devotionals.

    Now it is time for me to start laying down some fences so I can be the best God has called me to be.

  19. Elaine June 11, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    This is an ontime word for me today.

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