I remember having braces in my teen years. I hated them. Every visit to the orthodontist meant these little instruments tweaking, twisting and pulling wires to get my teeth aligned. And there were those miniature rubber bands that pulled any wayward teeth back onto the straight and narrow. Near the end of my orthodontic treatment, the metal braces were removed and traded for a fixed retainer. The purpose of the retainer was to ensure my once crooked teeth would remain straight.

So, at what point did my newly straightened teeth become crooked and misaligned? It was the moment I willfully choose to remove the wire restraint that was keeping everything on the straight and narrow path (so to speak). Looking back now, I wonder what in the world I was thinking. What caused me to favor crooked over straight? I can sum it up in one word; rebellion.

In my arrogance, I believed myself to know more than the expert. My teeth were straight and aligned perfectly; I saw no purpose for having an immovable wire restraint. That deliberate and rebellious choice was the moment straight became crooked, and, to this day, my smile bears witness to that choice. When I removed the retaining guard rail, and saw myself as the expert, my teeth shifted. I choose the crooked path.

This analogy closely parallels our daily life. God, the expert, works diligently to straighten the crookedness of our earthly journey. Like my dentist, God applies restraints to lead and guide our will in a direction to fulfill His purpose. He lovingly sets up road blocks; builds guard rails, constructs bridges and erects retaining walls to keep us on the straight and narrow road to Heaven.

But we often rebel and willfully bend and twist the protective restraints God (the expert) puts in place. We seem to focus on the EXIT NOW signs designed to appeal to our senses with a promise of a glamorous, exciting and ‘do- it your way’ lifestyle.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13)

Don’t be fooled. God clearly views a rebellious heart as arrogant and self-focused and will judge those who seek out crooked ways. As you travel the straight and narrow highway in Christ, refuse to exit where billboards of rebellion are displayed. Refuse to remove the roadblocks and guard rails that God purposely puts in place.

Seek to embrace the straight road, the narrow road paved with submission to the will of God. Submit yourself to the expert. “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6 NIV)

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