How To Avoid Alligators


Five years ago I cycled Tamiami Trail through the Everglades across southern Florida.

Incredible experience riding through a unique, primeval environment. Even got attacked by a mythical skunk-ape (“mythical” story here).

Tamiami Trail is a great place to Keep It Between The Ditches. The road’s bordered by deep canals. Several times I saw a single shoe beside the road and wondered how fast an alligator can run.

I remember wondering what lurked just below the surface of the dark water, imagining prehistoric monsters beneath each shadowy ripple. I could have wasted a glorious day of cycling staring at the ditch, worrying about possible danger.

Question, though, is how to avoid focusing on the ditch, making life and cycling simply about staying out of trouble. Last time I said it means accepting Jesus’ invitation, “Follow Me.” But how – in everyday, practical terms – do we follow?

If we can’t do it by avoiding-the-bad, and we can’t do it by doing-good (because none can be good enough), how exactly do we accomplish this “following” thing?

No amount of chasing accomplishment, power, money, influence…none of that will ever help us follow the light. Even if it’s all for the right reasons.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Following is all about surrender, but it’s not passive. Following the path is active, but it can’t involve getting.

God surrounds us with a limitless supply of the things we need most. Grace, love, hope, forgiveness—they’re everywhere, and they’re gifts. You can’t buy them or strategically seek them. But if you give them away, generously and with no strings attached, they wash back over you like waves from an endless ocean.

I wonder if the way to follow the path is to serve others by giving away these things God has given to you.

What if following the path is all about service, and following Jesus means giving away love, grace, forgiveness, hope, courage, mercy, light, justice, and the other gifts God planted in your heart?

What if choosing to give those gifts is really the way to follow the path and the best way to avoid the ditch? What if you don’t have to focus on the ditch at all?

Don’t mistake this model for “easy.” Simple doesn’t mean simplistic. Following this path involves hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

However, here’s a hard truth – running from alligators ain’t all that easy, either.

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