Sunday was a beautiful day in northern Indiana; the first really nice day this spring. So, we went for a bike ride. Just as in many other places, our community has turned old railroad tracks into trails so a person can ride for miles on paved trails through woodland, farmland and open meadows.

The roads are intended for bikers, walkers, runners – anyone except motor vehicles and HORSES. It isn’t only restricting horses with single riders, but also buggies pulled by horses.

The sign forbidding horses caught my attention. Quite frankly, I admit if I had a horse I might consider using the trail. After all, it makes getting cross country so much easier. You know, being able to go “as the crow flies” rather than on the county roads. As I rode, I pondered what the tell-tale signs would be if I took a horse on the trail.

First, there would be the horse piles. You know, manure. I figured that could be avoided by attaching a bag to the horse’s tail to catch the poop before it hit the ground. Most obvious problem solved!

Secondly, horseshoes really mess up a paved road. This is evident on most roads in our county due to Amish buggy traffic. This caused me to pause. I couldn’t avoid this certainty. The first time or two down the trail would go unnoticed, unless someone saw me with their eyes. Every time I successfully used the trail without being detected, my courage would grow.

Eventually, I would be forget the cautions. I would forget about the sign that forbid horses on the trail. I would fail to notice the marks the horseshoes made on the paved trail, even when a groove began to form. The presence of the worn path would be all the evidence needed to confirm that I had been on the trail.

As I pondered all this, I realized I sometimes do that in life. Something catches my attention, something that I ought to avoid, but I know I won’t get caught the first time, or maybe even the second time. So, I take the path I should avoid. And every trip down the trail makes marks and my continued behavior creates pathways, easily distinguishable by others. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

My question for today is this: what warning signs or markers have you ignored? You know what you need to avoid so you proceed carefully, avoiding detection. But eventually a trail forms. And that trail exposes your transgression.

It is not too late to turn around, to take a different way, an honorable path. The same principle works in reverse. Every time you make the right choice, it creates another path, a better path. One that you can be proud of and never need to fear exposure.

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.

Psalm 25:4-7

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