I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30

 A friend of mine told me of the first time he visited his girlfriend’s (now wife’s) family in rural Minnesota. My friend was born and raised in the city. His only experience with tractors and farm machinery was the area called ‘machinery hill’ at the State Fair. But my friend was always willing to try new things. There were few challenges he wasn’t ready to take.

His girlfriend, however, was born and raised on a farm miles from the nearest large city. ‘She’d learned how to drive tractor almost before she knew how to walk!” He chuckled as he told the story. 

On his first visit to the farm he was eager to learn about the farm and equally eager to impress this new family. He willingly helped with chores and laughed at himself when he made some goofy, ‘green-hand’ mistake. He readily accepted the offer from one of the brothers to drive the tractor and was quite impressed with how quickly he learned the ropes.

On the third day on the farm he overheard talk at the dinner table about an 80 acre field that still needed to be plowed before the predicted rain came later that day. After the meal he offered his ‘dad-in-law-to-be’ his services to plow the field. After some discussion the father finally agreed and the two climbed on board the tractor for the trip to the field.

Dad made the first two trips across the field explaining how the plow and tractor worked together and giving some instruction. My friend now admits that he wasn’t really listening. The excitement of the new challenge occupied his mind completely. The father soon left him on his own for the new adventure and walked back to the farm. My friend was on his own.

He soon found out that the task wasn’t as easy as he had expected to be. Whereas the father had plowed nice strait furrow in the earth, my friend found it nearly impossible to stay on track. His furrows were crooked and overlapped. He constantly had to cut back to pick up places he’d missed completely. After a couple hours of frustration he turned the tractor around once more only to see a gaping spot he’d missed in the field and a familiar shape standing near the fence line.

As he guided the tractor across the field one more time he looked back and noticed that in his nervousness he had once again left a gaping hole, missing an entire segment of earth. The father climbed on board the tractor and asked him how it was going. My friend admitted that it was much tougher than he’d expected and was more impressed than ever with the father’s ability to plow such straight furrows time after time. He asked what the secret was.

The father smiled and pointed across the field. “You see that fence post at the other end? Let’s take one more pass here. I want you to place all your attention on that post. Don’t look to the side, don’t look back. Only drive to the post.”

My friend put the tractor in gear and looked ahead at the post. He resisted every temptation to check the plow, the sides or anything else. When he got to the end of the field he looked back and saw a perfectly straight furrow! The trick was to keep his focus on what lay ahead.

What a perfect lesson to learn for each of us. The Psalmist tells us to ‘set our hearts on the Laws of God’. In order to make straight paths on the journey of life we must set our attention completely on what God wants for us. Don’t look at where we’ve been. Don’t look at what is going on around us. Set our eyes squarely on Jesus and we won’t waver.

PRAYER: Holy God. I confess to you that I am constantly tempted to look at my past and what others around me are doing. When I do that I lose my vision of who you are, of who I am and what you want for me. I ask that you would empower me to only pay attention to what you want for me. Keep me from being distracted by my past. Help me to ignore those things that would keep me from following you. I ask this in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.

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