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The Parable of the Sandwich Sign (Max Lucado)

Fellow poets, faithful readers, and friends:

While this is not a poem, it contains so much food
for thought. I will add some comments at the end.


The Parable of the Sandwich Sign
by Max Lucado

I am the voice of the one calling out in the desert:
"Make the road straight for the Lord." John 1:23

The faces of the three men were solemn as the mayor
informed them of the catastrophe. "The rains have
washed away the bridge. During the night many cars
drove over the edge and into the river."

"What can we do?" asked one.

"You must stand on the side of the road and warn the
drivers not to make the left turn. Tell them to take
the one-lane road that follows the side of the river."

"But they drive so fast! How can we warn them?"

"By wearing these sandwich signs," the mayor
explained, producing three wooden double-signs,
hinged together to hang from one's shoulders.
"Stand at the crossroads so drivers can see
these signs until I can get someone out there
to fix the bridge."

And so the men hurried out to the dangerous
curve and put the signs over their shoulders.

"The drivers should see me first," spoke one.
The others agreed. His sign warned, "Bridge Out!"
He walked several hundred yards before the turn
and took his post.

"Perhaps I should be second, so the drivers will
slow down," spoke the one whose sign declared,
"Reduce Speed."

"Good idea," agreed the third. "I'll stand here
at the curve so people will get off the wide road
and onto the narrow." His sign read simply "Take
Right Road" and had a finger pointing toward the
safe route.

And so the three men stood with their three signs
ready to warn the travelers of the washed-out bridge.
As the cars approached, the first man would stand up
straight so the drivers could read, "Bridge Out."

Then the next would gesture to his sign, telling
the cars to "Reduce Speed."

And as the motorists complied, they would then see
the third sign, "Right Road Only." And though the
road was narrow, the cars complied and were safe.
Hundreds of lives were saved by the three sign
holders. Because they did their job, many people
were kept from peril.

But after a few hours they grew lax in their task.

The first man got sleepy. "I'll sit where people
can read my sign as I sleep," he decided. So he
took his sign off his shoulders and propped it up
against a boulder. He leaned against it and fell
asleep. As he slept his arm slid over the sign,
blocking one of the two words. So rather than
read "Bridge Out," his sign simply stated "Bridge."

The second didn't grow tired, but he did grow
conceited. The longer he stood warning the people
the more important he felt. A few even pulled off
to the side of the road to thank him for the job
well done. "We might have died had you not told
us to slow down," they applauded.

"You're so right," he thought to himself. "How
many people would be lost were it not for me?"

Presently he came to think that he was just as
important as his sign. So he took it off, set it
up on the ground, and stood beside it. As he did,
he was unaware that he, too, was blocking one word
of his warning. He was standing in front of the
word "Speed." All the drivers could read was the
word "Reduce." Most thought he was advertising a
diet plan.

The third man was not tired like the first, nor
self-consumed like the second. But he was concerned
about the message of his sign. "Right Road Only,"
it read.

It troubled him that his message was so narrow,
so dogmatic. "People should be given a choice in
the matter. Who am I to tell them which is the
right road and which is the wrong road?"

So he decided to alter the wording of the sign.
He marked out the word "Only" and changed it
to "Preferred."

"Hmm," he thought, "that's still too strident.
One is best not to moralize. So he marked out
the word "Preferred" and wrote "Suggested."

That still didn't seem right, "Might offend
people if they think I'm suggesting I know
something they don't."

So he thought and thought and finally marked
through the word "Suggested" and replaced it
with a more neutral phrase.

"Ahh, just right," he said to himself
as he backed off and read the words:
"Right Road—One of Two Equally Valid

And so as the first man slept and the second
stood and the third altered the message, one
car after another plunged into the river.

From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1995) Max Lucado

** NOTE **

The message of the signs were clear from the
beginning. The problem started when each of
the three people became complacent towards
the goal and purpose of the mission they were
out there to accomplish -- to divert cars away
from the danger of the collapsed bridge,
thereby saving lives, which was working.

In the same way, God gave us the Bible, His
divinely inspired Holy Word. It was transcribed
by His chosen men, who were totally guided by
the Holy Spirit to write His message of truth.
It is completely accurate, without error, from
cover to cover.

The theme of the Bible is that God provided a
way of redemption for all mankind, through the
blood of Jesus, who became the sacrifice for sin
by His death and resurrection. There are only two
eternal destinations -- Heaven or Hell. Heaven is
for all who have personally accepted the sacrifice
of Jesus on their behalf, by placing their faith
in Him alone, not by any good things they have done.
Hell is a very real place of eternal torment and
punishment, reserved for those who reject Jesus.
Which path are you on and how do you know?

The problem is that there are many false teachings
today which have changed and twisted the original
Bible to suit their own ideas. They sway people
into their group by saying they have an alternative
way, which is an easier path to follow, and makes
more sense.

As a Christian, I am humbled that God has blessed
me with the gift of poetry to communicate His message
of truth to those who need to hear it. I cannot save
anyone. That is the role of the Holy Spirit to work
in a person's heart, to convict them of sin and their
own need to receive Jesus into their life.

Thanks for taking the time to reflect on the parable by
Max Lucado and for listening to my heart.

God bless, Carol

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