When I was a young guy, perhaps eleven or twelve, a missionary visited my church. He was the first missionary I’d ever seen. Oh, I had heard stories of missionaries living in distant lands, but those were just stories to me until I met the real deal. That Sunday night, he came to our youth meeting and preached. He made a profound impact on me. I still remember a story he told in his sermon. He may have titled his story, “The Edge of Danger.” I’ll attempt to convey this to you now.
A Man and His Mule
In a tiny village in South America, a young man lived who decided to become a transporter. He made this choice because few jobs existed in his hometown. The job was dangerous because a mountain separated the tiny village from a city where the villagers could sell their produce. Only one trail connected the small village to the city. However, the mountain trail was quite steep, very narrow, and had many switchbacks.
The young man purchased a mule and prepared to make his first trek across the mountain. Before he set out on his delivery, he sought advice from an ancient, withered man who had been a transporter his whole life. The young man asked him if there was anything he should know.
The gnarled old man said, “Yes. When I became a transporter, there were two of us. I was always fearful of falling from the high precipices, so my mule and I constantly traveled as close to the mountain wall as possible. We moved slowly and cautiously, always aware of the danger that lurked on the edges of the trail.”
The Edge of Danger
The young man inquired, “What about the other guy? I’ve never heard of him.” The old man replied, “The other guy always boasted about how brave he was. He would spin tales for the young women of our village. He would say, ‘I am the fastest transporter. I’m not afraid of the mountain trail. Many times, my mule and I have faced death, often slipping to the very edge of the trail. The trail doesn’t scare me. I just load up my mule, and we fly!'”
“So?” asked the young man. The old man replied, “The other guy died before you were born. One day he set off on his journey. It had been raining and the path was slippery. He drove his mule too close to the edge and they slipped; both fell to their deaths.”
Then the missionary said, “To live for Jesus, you need to keep as close to the Rock and as far away from the edge of sin as you can. If you live as close to sin as you can, someday you’ll fall off the path Jesus has called you to walk. If you fall, you’ll wreck your life.”
I heard that story fifty-five years ago, and it remains at the forefront of my mind. Sadly, during my life, more than once, I have fallen over the edge. Thankfully, when I repented, Jesus pulled me out of the mire into which I’d fallen. God is the God of second chances, but life is much better when we don’t need another chance.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-21
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