Staying Focused on the Narrow Road

Staying Focused on the Narrow Road

I heard a story about Yogi Berra, the great catcher for the New York Yankees. He used to talk a lot of noise. I can appreciate that. When I played baseball, I was a catcher. One of the jobs of the catcher is to distract the batter. Part of my job involved saying mean, irritating and offending things to the player at bat. I would talk about their mother, make fun of their batting abilities, or tell them that they hit like a girl. The point was to mess with their minds in order to take their focus off of the ball.

One time, Yogi Berra was behind the plate, and Hank Aaron came up to bat. Yogi said on occasion, “all right, Hank is getting ready to bat.” Hank would not say anything to him. Yogi continued, “Hank you've got the writing on the bat in the wrong place. The words should be facing you.” Yogi wanted to get Hank to look at the bat to make sure it was in the right place. Yogi kept going, “you better check it." Hank did not budge or say a word. The next pitch Hank hit over the center field fence. Hank rounded the bases, stepped on home plate, and began walking toward the dugout. He stopped, turned back, looked at Yogi Berra, and said, “I did not come here to read." That is focus. [1]

Focus is the ability and desire to avoid distractions and the constant diligence in carrying out our mission. On the other hand, we cannot focus on that which we cannot see or are ignorant of. We have to know what our goals are before we can carry them out. We need to know our purpose and have a map to follow in carrying it out. Jesus told us in Mathew 7:13-14 to travel along the narrow road. A narrow road takes both concentration and good vision.

Imagine you are driving along a narrow, two-lane country road at midnight when it is the darkest. Your headlights barely cover the space right in front of you, and streetlights are only found at country road intersections every few miles. Think of all the obstacles that could be waiting to cause a disaster. First is a recent blowout tire tread, laying across the road like a lazy alligator. Next there is an eight-foot section of a two-by-four with two nails sticking out eagerly to cause a puncture in the tire. Then, just for fun, are a few deer who take an instant to dart out in front of your car. If you are lucky enough to dodge one obstacle, the next will strike because you cannot see the danger. You are oblivious and unaware.

Now imagine after driving miles down this road, you turn onto a state highway. There are streetlights every quarter mile and it is so much easier to see the obstacles, even though a few remain in the darkened areas. You manage to dodge most of them, but when you hit that dark spot – wham! – there goes the front left tire! Then, since you are sitting in a dark spot, you become an obstacle yourself.

Finally, driving on, you make it to a big city like Houston, Texas. Here the streetlights are spaced every hundred feet, and their lighting intersects with the surrounding lights. Every obstacle is illuminated. The tire tread is not even a thought as you change lanes a hundred yards before you reach it, the same with the two-by-four. The deer know not to go near the many lights, for they too can see the cars whizzing by. You not only can see the obstacles, but you are aware of the dangers and stay focused.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” and Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

If we only hear the word once a week at church and never open our Bibles during the week, just like that country road, we cannot see the obstacles that Satan puts in our path. We are more susceptible to disasters, as they are hidden in the darkness. In the same way, if we only read our Bibles once in a while, we can see some of the hazards, but a few surprise us because we are still blinded to the danger.

Yet, when we read the Word daily and immerse ourselves in God’s wisdom, we illuminate every area and moment of lives. We will not be deceived by the devil's schemes, for we can see them coming and know the danger for what it is. Just as country roads do not have many road signs while the city roads have them everywhere, having the word in our hearts keeps us on that narrow path. We have the maps in our laps, and we know the way that we are going.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). Jesus is the word of God, and with Him leading the way, we will never be lost, nor will we hit the obstacles, for we will see them for what they are. Thus, we must be enlightened with the word and focused on both where we are going and the road in front of us.

  1. Evans, Tony (2009), Tony Evans' Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. ↩︎