When our sons were small we had a story book that we read to them. It was about a young train engine who was going to school to learn how to handle responsibility. Someday, he would lead train cars behind him and travel at great speeds; but first, he had some lessons to understand.
The most important instruction he received concerned his behavior. He was told that he must stay on the tracks. This might not have seemed to hard a task to obey, but there was a problem. The tracks did not lead to all the places that the train wanted to go. He saw fields with flowers blooming and other intriguing sights that were beyond the pathway of the rails laid out for him to follow. Forgetting his commitment to succeed, he left the tracks and strayed out of his boundaries.
Those who had been instructing him soon noticed signs of his behavior. It was apparent that the little engine was not obeying the rules. If he was ever to be the leader he was destined to be, an intervention would have to occur.
Those who cared about the future of the young locomotive set about to discourage his disobedient behavior and save him from future ruin. They each carried a red warning flag with them and journeyed out to the fields and meadows that tempted their friend to disobey. They hid in all the places they thought he might wander to and they waited.
Sure enough, as the little engine roared along his journey the fields beckoned him away from what he knew was acceptable. Once again he made the decision to leave the track to explore forbidden territory, only to find that something had changed. Everywhere he looked, he saw a red warning flag. Suddenly, the places he was drawn to before had lost their appeal. The red warning flags reminded him of the proper path over and over.
So what finally happened to the young train? He decided to heed the instruction of his teachers and friends and stay on the path that was set before him. In later years, he became a very fast locomotive, carrying train cars responsibly to just the right destinations.
Have you ever left the track in search of the fields of flowers? Did anyone else notice the grass in your wheels? Did any of your friends take the time to warn you of the consequences of leaving the path that God had laid out for you? Were they faithful to hold up the red flag when YOU were jumping the rails?