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Off the Path  

It was foolish.  Not even a two-year old would have made the mistake. May I tell you about it?

Trekking along a pathway in the Sonoran Desert's Saguaro National Park, Charlie, Kathy, Diana and I were struck by the landscape.  No other place on the planet has as many Saguaro cacti . Nor was the Saguaro the only cactus around.  There were dozens of varieties.  Deserts, I am learning, offer a strange beauty—and I was determined to capture it all on my Nikon…or die trying.

Convinced I had framed up a pretty cool shot, I asked my wife to smile into the camera.  But peering through the viewfinder, I realized the angle was off.  I needed to move.  The path was too narrow, its range of view too constricting. So I carefully stepped off into the dense (thorny) vegetation.  I moved the camera slowly… and took the shot of my smiling wife.  That’s when I learned a lesson from the teddy bear cholla cactus.

Named for its fuzzy appearance, the teddy bear—or “jumping cholla”—looks like a soft teddy bear, complete with cute little arms.   But take it from me, this is no plush toy.  The thing is covered with slivery spines (not thorns).  Get just close enough and those spines seem to jump off and embed themselves in your skin.

The pain in my leg was intense.  But worse yet was the discovery that each spine had a barbed tip.  So ripping them out was an extra delight.  Having cleared my leg of the evil teddy bear’s spines, I sensed a mild case of the chills.  All this…because I stepped off the path.  

Yet how often have you and I done the same thing, spiritually?  A temptation comes along and it looks as harmless as a teddy bear.  It charmingly bids us take just a step or two off the path of our commitment to Christ—and enjoy a better deal.

Then comes the sting…the barbed tip…the reality that we have sinned—and sinned foolishly.  Proverbs 12:28 assures us, “In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.”

I’m learning—sometimes the hard way—it really is best to stay on the path.


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016