narrow way

by Elizabeth de Barros

Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left.

-Numbers 22:26

Balaam was a reckless prophet. Numbers 22 tells us how the angel of the Lord opposed him to his face, but he continued to rush headlong in error. He now lives on in infamy in the book of Jude, along with Cain and Korah – all names associated with a particular brand of sin. Their common ground? Each one left the narrow way.

So, how narrow is narrow?

Without trying to be glib, narrow enough to feel the squeeze and to trust God to broaden the path beneath your feet. But walking in this way doesn’t just happen. It’s an “eyes wide open” choice that is made by setting all compromise aside, plunking down your heart in earnest on the altar and yielding your members to His Lordship as one being taught.

Lately, I’ve been asking the Lord to train my mind according to His Word, make it more effective and useful to Him. Things are changing. I feel like I’m being escorted down a long corridor, seeing things I’ve never seen before. I’m passing old mindsets like they’re road signs being shot at by some madman on a joy ride. Meanwhile, I’m trying to follow God at every turn so I can see from His vantage point, not mine.

The other morning, while in full regalia prayer mode, I hadn’t expected to be taught a lesson in prayer, but that’s what I got. As freely as the words, “Lord, lead me into all You have for me,” rolled off my tongue, the fire died out.

It was like looking at a stray wire hanging out from the wall. Disconnect. In the quiet, I was reminded of how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. I adjusted my words:

“Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”

Ah, guard rails.  And I saw how “Lead me into all you have for me” was a weak and selfish prayer. Weak because His will for me is already written in the Word — He already leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Selfish because it is intrinsically me-centered, not God-centered. When everything is for me and about me, I’m lulled to sleep by my own discordant lullaby, never mind Satan’s mind-numbing pipes. When I pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil,” it enforces the truth of the ever-present reality of sin, making me conscious of God.

Perhaps Balaam, Cain, and Korah inherited woe because they didn’t bother to read the memo.