No Bulls in the Ditch

As told to Sheila R. and Francis M. Woodard

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

    One time when I was nine years old, I was helping Uncle George feed the animals in the barn. “You sure are quiet this morning, Justin,” he said.

    “I was thinking about what my Primary teacher said last week,” I told him.

    “What did she say?” Uncle George asked as he threw some hay to one of the cows.

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

    Uncle George nodded. “It is hard to always make correct choices. 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 the animals, Uncle George said, “Thanks for your help, Justin. What would you like to do now?”

    “I’d like to go over to my friend Jeff’s, but Mom and Dad usually take me there.”

    Tilting his hat back on his head, Uncle George said, “They’ve gone into town with Ruby. I can’t take you either, because 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,” he said, “you can follow it all the way to Jeff’s house. Can you do that?”

    I told him I was sure I could. Before I left, 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 promised 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 I couldn’t see over it. But soon I began to see interesting things all around me, and I wasn’t afraid of being in the ditch. I found a small white snail shell and a lot of interesting plants. Then I found a pebble and put it in my pocket.

    After a while, though, it wasn’t interesting anymore, and my legs were getting tired. My faith in Uncle George’s words began to waver. Maybe I had already passed Jeff’s house. Maybe I wasn’t even 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 I could see over the tall grass and find out where I was.

    Happily, I saw that only a fence and a large pasture stood between me and Jeff’s house. All I had to do was walk through the pasture, and I would be there. With my goal in sight, I forgot my uncle’s warnings.

    I slipped through a hole in the fence and started across the pasture. All I thought about was the fun Jeff and I were going to have. I paid no attention to what was going on around me until I heard a loud snort and the snapping of breaking sticks. I turned around and saw a large bull charging toward me from the edge of the pasture.

    Now I had a new goal—to reach the fence before the bull reached me. I knew the shortest distance between two points was a straight line, so I ran straight toward the hole in the fence I had climbed through earlier. I ran so fast I could hear the air whistling around my ears. 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 was sure I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dived through the fence to safety. He snorted loudly as he pushed his nose through the hole and 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.

    Now all I wanted to do was return to the “strait and narrow path” and follow my uncle’s instructions. I knew there were no bulls in the ditch. It was a safe place.

    I had learned that my Primary teacher and Uncle George were right. There is great safety in choosing the right and following the correct path. I realized Heavenly Father would always help me stay on the “strait and narrow path” if I would listen and obey.

    Illustrated by Dick Brown