No Bulls in the Ditch


A true story
Walk in the paths of righteousness (1 Ne. 16:5).

Every year my parents took me to visit Aunt Ruby and Uncle George, who lived on a dairy farm. I enjoyed visiting them because there were so many different things for me to see and do. I played in the barn, helped feed the animals, rode on the tractor, and explored the big red shed.

One year, a few days after we had arrived, I was helping Uncle George feed the animals in the barn. “You sure are quiet this morning, Justin,” he said.

“I was thinking about something my Primary teacher said in class last week.”

“Oh—what did she say?” Uncle George asked as he pitched a forkful of hay to one of the cows.

“She said that making right choices will help me keep the promises I made to Heavenly Father when I was baptized. The problem is, it’s hard to always make the right choice.”

Leaning on his pitchfork, Uncle George nodded. “It is hard to always make correct choices, Justin. But when we live the gospel standards and follow the strait and narrow path, like the scriptures tell us to, the Lord will help us.”

I thought about the “strait and narrow path,” for the rest of the morning. When we finished feeding all the animals, Uncle George said, “Thanks for your help, Justin. I surely appreciate it. What would you like to do now?”

“I’d like to go over to my friend Jeff’s and play, but Mom and Dad usually drive me to his house.”

Tilting his hat back on his head, Uncle George said, “And they’ve gone into town to help Ruby with the shopping. I’d like to take you over there, but I have to fix the tractor.”

He put his arm around my shoulders and led me to a big dry ditch. “If you get in this ditch, you can follow it all the way to Jeff’s house. Do you think you can do that?”

I told him that I was sure I could do it. Before he sent me on my way, he gave me two warnings. One, I was to stay in the ditch. If I got out, I could get hurt or lost. Two, I was to keep going, even if I got tired. Then he assured me that if I followed his instructions, I would have no trouble reaching my friend’s house.

At first I was nervous. The grass on both sides of the ditch was so tall that I couldn’t see over it. But soon I began to see interesting things all around me and being in the ditch didn’t bother me. I found a small, white-colored snail shell, a lot of joint grass I could pull apart, and milkweed pods filled with silk and seeds. Then I found a round, clear pebble that I shined up and put into my pocket.

After a while, the newness of my adventure began to wear off. I’d seen everything twice, and my legs were beginning to hurt. I felt like I’d been walking for miles and miles. My faith in Uncle George’s words began to waver. Maybe I’d already passed Jeff’s house. I wasn’t even sure if I was still going in the right direction. My uncle’s warnings were still clear in my mind, but I carefully climbed to the top of the ditch so that I could see over the tall grass and find out where I was.

Happily, I saw that only a fence and a large, green pasture stood between me and my goal. All I had to do was walk through the pasture, and I’d be there. The day took on a new excitement. My goal was in sight; my uncle’s warnings were forgotten.

Finding a hole in the fence, I slipped through. All I thought about was the fun Jeff and I were going to have once I reached his house. I paid no attention to what might be going on around me, until I heard a loud snort and the snapping of breaking sticks. Turning, I saw a large bull charging toward me out of the tall willow patch at the edge of the pasture.

Running wasn’t my greatest talent unless I was scared. And I was really scared. I ran like the wind. It felt like I was running a hundred miles an hour. I could hear the air whistling around my ears. Everything around me was a blur. I had a new goal in life—to reach the fence before the bull reached me. All the time, I was silently praying that Heavenly Father would bless me to run faster than the bull.

The fence was getting closer, but so was the bull. I didn’t dare look over my shoulder, because I was afraid it might slow me down. Although I was only nine years old, I already knew that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. So I ran, as straight as an arrow, back to the hole in the fence I had climbed through earlier.

I was sure I felt the bull’s hot breath on my neck as I dove through the fence to safety. The bull snorted loudly as his nose pushed through the hole and he realized he couldn’t reach me.

My life had been spared. Heavenly Father had answered my prayer. My heart was full of gratitude to Him. I would see the sun come up in the morning. I would see my family again. I could still play with my friend. Life was good!

Now all I wanted to do was return to the “strait and narrow path” and follow my uncle’s instructions. I knew that there were no bulls in the ditch. It was a safe place. I also knew that I would never forget the words my uncle told me that morning. “Go down the ditch in the direction that I’ll show you. Stay in the ditch, because if you get out, you could get hurt or lost. And you need to keep going, even if you get tired.”

I had learned that my Primary teacher and Uncle George were right. There is great safety when choosing the right and following the correct path. I was sure that the Lord had helped me run faster than the charging bull. He had saved my life, and I was grateful. I was glad to have a chance to be back on the right path, and I knew that Heavenly Father would always help me stay on the “strait and narrow path” if I would listen and obey.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown