By Lyn Vandebrake
A teenager was talking to me the other day in a language that resembled English. I understood about a third of what was said. As he left to go his way, he remarked, ‘Keep it in the road.’
This gave me pause to reflect and I wondered, what road, and more so, what was I to keep there? I called him on his cell asking this question. “You know, keep it in the road,” he said. “Keep safe, keep on going, stay straight, keep it right there. Keep it in the road.”
Rather than actually answering my question, his explanation seemed to bring more questions into play with this road I am traveling in life that I am admonished to keep things in.
What if everyone else is going faster on this road than I want to or faster than I am able? What if I get caught in traffic with too many people in too many vehicles going too many places I don’t want to go?
What if I find myself traveling alone? What if there is no one who wants to travel with me? What if my road is different from everyone else and only I am content to travel there? Is the whole journey then spent as a solitary one?
Is it (metaphorically) an interstate, a gravel lane or something in between?
Are there detours in life? What hazards might be ahead? Four-way stops? Interchanges?
If given a choice how do I decipher which road to take? It would be simpler if there could be road blocks in front of bad decisions prohibiting passage with signs redirecting to safer ground.
Are there exits? What if I change my mind; can I re-enter life from another entrance ramp down from the exit I got off previously?
Are there tolls? How much will a decision cost me? Will the cost be so great I am emotionally marked for a long time? Or if I dig deep in my pockets and find a reserve of strength, will the cost be consumable; will I find it worth the price I paid?
Can I program my GPS to get me through the troubled times?
Will Mapquest tell me when I finally get to the end of the road?
Does the road play out like monopoly – you get to collect $200 and go around again? Or is it like poker – if you play all your cards wrong, you could lose it all? And if so, then what? Or perhaps you get a Royal Flush; how does it affect your life to win the hand at the cost of loss to others?
What do I get if I keep it in the road right dead and center – is there a dividend I get to collect? Is there a no-crossing line or no-passing lane I have to adhere to?
Where’s this road anyway? And am I on it?
Yogi Berra said, ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’ Robert Browning said the road less traveled makes all the difference and Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’
I called the teenager back, a student intern at the church I attend and asked. His youth minister, standing nearby overhearing part of the conversation, offered this, “Live life. Treat your neighbor right. Do good. Stay solid in faith and fellowship with God. Walk the straight and narrow. Stay safe. Share. Love life and those in it and what God has given you.”
It sounded good to me. That teenager was smarter than I’d originally given him credit for. I think I’ll go right out to my garage this minute and program my GPS to keep it in the road.