Come, Follow Me: The Path is Strait, Not Straight

It doesn’t take much to stray off the path if we’re not vigilant.

A lot of people have noticed the title of the Come, Follow Me lesson this week, “This is the way,” and have related it to the catchphrase from the popular Disney series The Mandalorian. I’ve seen memes all over the internet on the subject, and I admit that it’s a clever connection I did not initially notice.

Another element I did not see at first when I began reading the scriptures was the spelling of strait as used in the term “strait and narrow path.” As a primary child, I imagined an undeviating trail that vanished on the horizon in the distance… never turning to the left or to the right.

As it turns out, that would be completely accurate of a “straight” and narrow path – but that is not the term used.

Strait is a word that I first encountered in geography lessons in elementary school, describing a narrow water divide separating large landmasses. Examples of this include the Strait of Gibraltar, which divides the southern tip of Spain in Europe from the northern coasts of Morocco in Africa, and the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska from the eastern tip of Russia.

Here is the term in context:

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life…(2 Nephi 31:17-18, emphasis added)

The idea, just like the narrow bits of water that separate large landmasses, is that the path is narrow. So Nephi is describing the path as narrow and narrow. Why not just say narrow then? Why strait and narrow?

The repetition brings emphasis.

In other words, the path is not just slightly more narrow than the width of two horses… the path is extremely narrow. Without constant focus, a person is likely to stray from it. Even in short instances in which a person lashes out in anger, puffs themselves up in pride, or prioritizes political stances over divine standards, can lead an individual far from its safety.

Because it is not necessarily straight, a wise traveler on the path should expect twists, turns, steep climbs, and sudden drops. As opposed to the undeviating trail that vanishes on the horizon, it is sometimes difficult to discern what lies more than a few steps ahead.

This should lead us to ask… if it is so difficult to stay on the path, why use it?

Nephi has an answer for this as well:

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 31:21, emphasis added)

The fact there exists any way at all is a miracle. The one who blazed the trail paid an unimaginable price to forge a road, even when no passage was possible. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is that way.

So if you tread on a part of the path that is difficult… if you feel like your progress has stalled as you have tried to stay on the strait and narrow… Stay with it. Take confidence in the counsel of living prophets and apostles, that even if you have stalled on or strayed from it, you are capable of walking the covenant path.

Supplemental Reading:

Brett Jensen manages The Ward Preacher. You can follow him on Twitter @wardpreacher.

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