"Okay boys and girls, here's the path," said Mr. Smith, the school teacher. "Remember, you can go anywhere you want on the main path or take the little paths that go off it. You have two hours to explore and then we need to take the bus back to school. Each path tells you how long it takes to walk it, so watch the time, okay?"
Most of the children were anxious to explore and took the first little path the veered off the main one. Johnny, though, continued along on the main path. "I'll wait," he thought, "and take one that no one goes on." That's how he came to slip quietly off to the left, alone. He didn't think to note how long it took to walk his route and didn't know he would never be back in time.
Two hours after beginning, all the children were seated, tiredly, on the bus. The teacher took his count and realized one Johnny was missing. "Did anyone see which path Johnny took?" he asked.
"Yes Sir," replied Suzie, "He went off to the left down a path marked with a purple star."
"Oh dear," replied the teacher. "He'll be a while longer then, I know that path and it's long! Well, we'll just wait a bit and he'll soon be along."
Johnny, meanwhile was getting scared. "They'll be mad at me," he thought. "I should have looked where I was going. How could I be so stupid? They'll all be gone home and I'll never get there. I'll fail the class for sure. They'll never take me back. How could I be so dumb?"
Finally, tired and sad, Johnny came to the end of the path. He looked around and saw the school bus waiting for him. "There you are," said Mr. Smith. "I knew you'd be along soon."
"I'm sorry, Sir ," said Johnny. "I never looked at how long it would take, I just wanted to be different and see better things. I bet all the kids are mad at me and you too.
"No, Johnny," he said. "We're not mad. We all make mistakes. Even though you were separated from the class for a little while we're all glad to see you back with us. Come get on the bus and let's go home!"
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prayer: Dear Lord and God, I confess that I have walked down paths other then the one you have laid out for me. I have not stopped to consider the consequences, the time it would take, or the places it would take me. Then, Lord, when I know I have turned from you, I am afraid to came back. I think that you will be mad at me, that you will no longer want me in your kingdom; that I will have separated myself from you. Thank you Father that nothing can separate us from your love. Thank you that you are waiting for us to come back to you, and that you welcome us back into your fellowship. Amen.