July 12

Encouragement for Today

 

“The Rail Down the Middle”

Van Walton, Spanish Ministries Coordinator, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:  

 

Isaiah 30:21 “And your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” wherever you turn to the right or to the left.”  (NAS)

 

Devotion:

 

“Summertime, and the livin' is easy…” are the opening words to a popular song written by George Gershwin long before summertime meant vacations to amusement and theme parks. Here we are, it’s the middle of the summer and by now many American families have made their way, on a hot sticky day to Six Flags, Disney World, or the local county fair. If you have not been already, chances are it is on the calendar, something to do before Labor Day. 

 

After a trip to ride roller coasters, splash in lazy rivers, and race go-carts, my family likes to re-live the day discussing all the rides, what was fun, wild, hairy, or scary. Each one of us is totally sold on a favorite ride until another member of the family reminds everyone about the upside down curve over water or the backwards loop through a tunnel. We all chime in, “Oh yeah, that was the best!” Driving home after a fast-paced day can be more fun than the day itself. Memories taken away are well worth the price of the entrance ticket.   

 

There are all types of thrill rides at today’s parks: roller coasters, water slides, slow and scary trips through dark tunnels, bumper cars and the “you-drive-it cars.”  My boys like the “you-drive-it cars” because that is when their antsy little hands get to grip the steering wheel and take control. They think they are driving the cars by themselves. They like the feeling of independence and self-reliance. We find ourselves returning to these rides several times during the amusement park visit. I approve of the “you-drive-its.”  It is fine with me if they drive them all day. I feel safe because there is a “rail down the middle.” There is no opportunity for them to veer off into danger.

 

Then I discovered a spiritual application. My neighbors and I were discussing the prophets in Bible Study a few weeks ago when a comparison to amusement park rides came up. We were reading and discussing God’s people in the Old Testament, those for whom He had provided and the ones He had protected. It seems the citizens of Israel, although they had been given a land of milk and honey by God Almighty, decided to turn away from God. Forgetting His love and laws, they disobediently went their own way.

 

This is where the amusement park came into the conversation. Sue said, “You know, the cars at theme parks, the ones that have a rail down the middle … that rail, it’s like the prophets, like Isaiah who kept reminding the people to stay on course. God’s chosen were not using the rail as a guide. They were ignoring it. Eventually they became hardened to the “rail down the middle.”

 

Now can you understand why I approve of the “you-drive-it cars?”  The rail down the middle is a steadfast and firm guide. It is immoveable. The rail keeps the driver from veering off course. My children are safe even when they are driving without driver’s licenses or the approval of the local director of transportation.

 

If you look at your life, you will realize that you have a “rail down the middle” that keeps you on course. Each one of us must choose our own rail. This is my rail: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV) What is your “rail down the middle?”

 

The Old Testament prophets were sort of a “rail down the middle.” They rubbed shoulders with the citizens around them and warned them of impending dangers, bad choices, dangerous relationships, and unsound alliances with the enemy.

 

Unfortunately for me, a person who needs clear and firm guidelines, God’s idea of a “rail down the middle” isn’t a piece of iron welded into a track that is near impossible to move. Sadly, the rail can be easily ignored because God has given His creation the freedom to take control of our lives and go wherever we choose. God’s rail is a gentle and gracious reminder. If we choose to ignore it, our lives veer off course and we find ourselves down a darkened ravine, crashed into a spiritual wall, or careening out of control and lost on the highway of life.

 

Life, like the amusement park, is full of wild rides. Although I seek excitement and thrills, I know that the safest and most comforting rides are the ones that have a “rail down the middle.”

 

My Prayer for Today: 

 

Lord, teach me to lean on You as my Guide.  Help me to steer away from anything that is not in Your divine will for my life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps: 

 

What have you used as your steady course for life?

 

Settle it today: what is your “rail down the middle?” 

 

Reflection Points: 

 

Many people compare their lives to others. Celebrities, heroes, popular personalities, and governing officials are the “rail down the middle.” We turn to those whose lives we would like to imitate. Are you guilty of focusing on unsteady leadership?

 

Parents, mentors, pastors can serve as valuable guides for others. Have you turned to tried and true leaders to advise you?

 

How can you help those whose lives come into contact with you as they travel their spiritual journey?

 

Power Verses:

 

Nehemiah 8:10, “Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra said to them, ‘…do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” (NAS)

 

Jeremiah 22:3, “… do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”  (NAS)

 

Haggai 2:5, “My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.” (NLT)

 

Malachi 2:7-8, “‘For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

 

Revelation 3:19, “I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference.”(NLT)

 

Additional Resources:

 

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God, by Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_becomingAWoman.htm

 

Who Holds the Keys to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_whoHoldsKey.htm

 

Being a Great Mom Raising Great Kids, by Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_greatMom.htm