Artist’s Lane: Guarding the ruts to follow

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    By Betty Slade
    PREVIEW Columnist

    Ruts took on a new meaning for me when I attended an all-day prayer retreat recently. I stepped out into 6 inches of snow that morning. I felt like stepping back inside and praying at home. But, I had made a commitment to the host. My place had been reserved.

    My Sweet Al gave me a send-off by saying, “Stay in the ruts and you’ll be OK. I’ll keep an eye on you until you reach the top of the road.”

    The theme of the prayer retreat was “Make straight the way of the Lord.” Upon arrival, I was handed a glossy 4-inch-by-5-inch photo. It depicted two deep lines embedded in petrified rock. Our assignment? Speak to what this means to you.

    The picture was a view of the Oregon Trail, a 2,000-mile path laid by pioneers heading west from Missouri. As thousands traversed the ground, wagon wheels carved the way for others to follow. 

    Sculpted channels dug by rounds made of wood and iron, parallel trenches became the rails carrying families seeking hope for tomorrow. 

    The overland journey was a six-month excursion that cost a family of four about $1,000. As with any journey into the unknown, travelers faced accidents and exhaustion. If the value of leaving everything you know behind wasn’t high enough, consider the cost of death for those who suffered in their pursuit for a better future. 

    I wonder: How many settlers thought they should’ve stepped back into their homes and stayed by the fire? Did they know once committed to the faraway land, they passed a point of no return?

    As I focused on the picture that themed the prayer retreat, I noticed something I’d not considered at first look. The ruts that seemed to entrap were stretching for the horizon. They were pointing toward a goal to even those who couldn’t see what lay ahead. 

    This isn’t unlike our faith journey today, where wear depresses a path traveled by knees bent in prayer. Or, as seen on the tattered pages of God’s word marked with ink as we unravel its mysteries. 

    The lane my Sweet Al and I have walked by faith is a provision for our children and grandchildren. The path we trampled that made the abstract come alive in our own lives has become a permanent guide to those who wish to come after us. 

    There are some who get stuck as they set their wheels in motion. After all, each of us has our own road to travel and don’t always successfully navigate around the potholes. But, for those who desire to reach for the horizon by following in someone else’s footprints, we know it is always easier to walk behind those who came before. 

    A quote by Graham Cooke caught my attention. He wrote, “Beloved, we have been placed in the safest and most secure place in the universe. We have been placed within Christ. He lives in us and us within Him.” 

    As we press toward our goal in Christ Jesus, we can only hope that we have left a guide for those in our wake. I share the words of Paul in the book of Timothy written 2,000 years ago.

    “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” — II Timothy 2:2 (NKJ).

    Final brushstroke: As Christians, we are called to watch over and guard the ruts beat down as we make our path toward God, for they are a secure route leading others to follow. 

    Readers’ comments

    Readers’ comments: “Hi Betty, I read the article, ‘Page Turner’ and loved it! We are all characters in God’s book and he decides the when and how we step onto the pages. He determines our role and length of time it takes to develop the character. Perfect! And the fact the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, but never against God’s will, plan and purpose, great insight! JD of Oklahoma.”

    Send your comments to betty@bettyslade.com.