WE were having our entrance walk bricked, and the first step in the process was to stretch a line from the center of the front door threshold, down the walk, to the center of the sidewalk steps. This was to make sure that the bricks were lined up properly, my husband explained. ``It's so easy,'' he said, ``to drift off course.'' Keeping straight on course is a challenge in every facet of life. There are so many diversions to tempt us from our path. Detours off course -- even slight ones -- may, if not detected and corrected, cause us to miss the mark. Aircraft navigators cannot settle for being a degree off course if they aim to arrive at their intended destination.
This is not to say that if one were on the way to the grocery market, it would be disastrous to veer off for a stop at the cleaners! But when it comes to fixed rules, as in mathematics, or to God's law, compromise is not a viable option.
Christian Science teaches that God is Principle, the unchanging, eternal, invariable lawmaker, and that our true selfhood, as His spiritual likeness, is obedient to divine law. That which is God-governed cannot stray from the divine path of righteousness. But in human experience we're often tempted to stray off course.
Nowhere is this more evident than in relation to the moral law, despite the clear standard of conduct spelled out in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ Jesus. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed, ``Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.''1
In a testimony given during a Wednesday evening service at a Church of Christ, Scientist, a man brought out an interesting point about the ``broad way'' of wrongdoing: it tends to narrow down. He said his drinking habit led to a loss of job, of marriage, of supply, of health, and of self-respect, until he felt he had reached a dead-end alley. But after turning to Christian Science and being healed of alcoholism, everything was restored to him -- his self-respect, his job, and even his marriage. The ``straight and narrow'' proved to offer him the unlimited way of life.
What if we've accidentally or deliberately strayed off course and now wish we hadn't? Is it ever too late to make the correction? Detours may slow us down; they may cause needless trouble, loss, or regret. But we never need to continue in the detour. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states, ``If you believe in and practise wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right.''2 We have the option of getting back on the right path, as the Bible indicates. If we've ever failed to be obedient to divine direction or law, we will be given a new opportunity, as Lot, Gideon, Jonah, Paul, and so many others found. The Father always has a loving welcome for every repentant prodigal making his way back home. As a hymn says:
When we wandered, Thou hast
When we doubted, sent us light; Still Thine arm has been around us,
All our paths were in Thy sight.3
Our path in life up to now may have been a zigzag one, or it may have included some backtracking, but we can resolve to do better. Adhering to our fixed Principle, God, and identifying ourselves spiritually as the unwavering reflection of Principle, we can stop vacillating. From this day forward we can elect to avoid those tempting but fruitless detours and stay straight on course. With God's help, we will!
1Matthew 7:13, 14. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 253. 3Christian Science Hymnal, No. 115. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27