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  • Shawn Thornton

"The Man Who Sees No Sidewalk"

Sunday - October 4th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 4:1-27

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.

Proverbs 4:14-15


Lance and I became instant friends at around age three. That was about the time my family moved next door to the Clelands (Lance's family). We lived on a dead-end cinder road called Victory Road in Mishawaka, Indiana. At the time, there were three homes on Victory. The Clelands, our house (picture of the house today is included in this post), and at the end of the road, one more place. An elderly couple lived there for the first few years, and then a family younger than the Clelands and our family moved in. The parents of that family are the only ones living there today from my childhood. A couple of other houses have been built in what was a field when we were kids.

Our little world of Victory Road sat on the edge of the city limits and felt more country than city. We were in our own little bubble there. We could go to other neighborhoods, but we had to go through fields, woods, or some backyards of strangers who lived on different streets. These routes through fields and woods were also our areas to build forts and play. It was a fantastic world in which to grow up as a boy.

Lance and I were inseparable as kids. His only sibling, his sister Lisa, was four years older than we were. My only sibling, Troy, was three years younger than we were. Lance and I were five months apart in age. As Lisa aged, she ignored us as brats. We allowed Troy to play with us, but he was usually more of a tool or toy to us (think punching bag, hole digger, wasp nest destroyer, experimental crash dummy).

As we moved into upper elementary school, Lance and I ventured farther and farther from the world of Victory Road. To access a candy store, ice cream shop, and other cool places in town, we developed a shortened route through 18th Street. This street was behind our homes, and we either got there through a patch of woods or the large yard (think field) of a stranger. Traveling through the woods slowed us down - especially if we had our bikes (which we usually did). So moving through the field or yard of this stranger became our go-to route to access the south end of the city of Mishawaka itself.

This post's aerial map shows a green X at my childhood home at 1803 Victory Road (now Street). The blue circle indicates the home of the stranger. You can see the route through the woods farther from his house. You can also see the path along the woods through his yard/field. After we boldly went through his yard a few times, one day, the man (whose name we never knew) came out and yelled at us. He shouted to us, "Hey, boys, do you see a sidewalk through my property?" Our sluggish answer in unison was "NO." He proceeded to tell us to stay out of his yard and kept using the idea that he saw no sidewalk in his yard to reinforce his instructions. Frankly, he was a little weird, and so was his confrontation with us.

Till this day, Lance, Troy, and I simply refer to that man as "The man who sees no sidewalk." We used this all of the time throughout our growing up years on Victory Road. Whenever we reference this man or his house as we tell childhood stories, without thinking, we casually say, "You remember, we were playing in the woods by 'the man who sees no sidewalk’s' yard." It is awkward when others hear us use this in stories, but for us, it just rolls off our tongues, and we do not even think about it.

While I have no idea of the level of wickedness or evil of "the man who sees no sidewalk," as I read Proverbs four today (October 4th), I could not help but think of him. That first confrontation would not be his last with Lance, Troy, or me. And, true to form, he asked us every time if we saw a sidewalk through his property. Whenever we wanted to go into the city a little bit, we had a choice. We knew what "the man who sees no sidewalk" preferred in our selection, but we still weighed the timing of our journey against our willingness to endure another barrage of "Do you see a sidewalk in my yard?"

We always had a choice. Today I would tell my younger self to respect the wishes of "the man who sees no sidewalk." For us, then, the woods were a valid route option, but so was his yard. Proverbs 4:14-15 call us to make a choice. This passage offers the choice to travel the path of wicked or evil people and their influence or walk the path of wisdom laid out for us by God. We are warned not even to set foot on the path of the wicked - let alone travel on it. Once we start down that road, the temptations of this world will try to keep us on that road and travel a long way down it. The text tells us to turn from it and go on our way.

How about you? Have you taken a few steps down that road? Or, have you been comfortably traveling on it for a while?

Stop now. Go back. Ask God to forgive you and lead you down the path of righteousness. You have a choice!

The consequences of traveling down the path of the wicked are far more significant than going through the yard of "the man who sees no sidewalk." But both present a clear, right choice. Make that choice!

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