Straight Ahead


To the left or the right

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Written by ANDRÉE SEU

August 5, 8:41 AM

“Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left” (Proverbs 4:26-27).

J.R. Hildebrand appeared to be positioned to win this year’s Indy 500 but veered just slightly at Turn 4 and hit the wall. It doesn’t take much; just an imperceptible shift will do it.

The Lord has given us commands to obey, and they are wonderful because when we actually do them, instead of just talk about doing them (like James says in James 1:22), they are like guardrails that keep us from all kinds of disasters, including relationship disasters.

But what God is impressing on my mind is that I need to obey His commands dead center, not veering even slightly “to the right or to the left.” Here is today’s example: There is a person God has brought into my life to love. This relationship is one of those “good and perfect gifts,” with no dark or worrisome sides to it. But for reasons that go beyond the pale of this column to describe in detail, the loving of this person, though exceedingly joyful, is not without an exquisitely personal pain.

I slyly noticed at some point that I am able to take the edge off this pain somewhat by simply performing a little mental trick in my mind: I can make myself care about him less, or make him less important or less wonderful in my mind. The strategy doesn’t even seem to be particularly sinful; I like to call it a restoration of balance of affections, or a bulwark against idolatry. But that’s rubbish: The plain truth is that it is sinful self-protection of the kind C.S. Lewis talked about in that passage from The Four Loves that everyone quotes.

So a note to self: Be on guard against the subtlest temptations of all: to veer by one or two comfortable and self-deceived degrees from the perfect commands of God.