My wife and I were on our way home from a day-long excursion to Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. It had been a lovely day. We drove there via the Blue Ridge Parkway, but there was a lot of re-surfacing going on, so we decided to take a different route back. We took a road we thought we thought was familiar, but then it looked different than we remembered it. After awhile, we came to junction with another familiar highway and took that. I knew exactly where this road would lead us. Or so I thought.
A few miles along that road, we saw a sign for the town we were heading for. But it was a different road and I was sure the road we were on would take us to the same town. It did, only it took us twice as long. I ignored the sign to follow my own idea of where we needed to go. I was confused on where each road led, but was convinced I was right. I wished I had paid attention to the sign instead of ignoring it.
I have experienced the same thing spiritually, and I have seen many others make similar mistakes of judgment. We think our understanding of things is correct; we think we know the best way to handle a particular situation; we think we can see clearly where our decisions will lead us. However, there are signs that indicate clearly to go a certain way, but we think we know better, or think the signs we’re seeing don’t apply to our situation. When it’s the Lord putting up the signs, if we ignore them, we will experience the equivalent of taking the long way home.
In my case, when I was much younger, I chose to get involved in several relationships where I ignored the divine signs. More recently, I tried to take the place of the Holy Spirit in dealing with a difficult situation. I see others who seek to deal with life’s difficulties and disappointments with distractions such as illicit sex, alcohol and drug abuse, or bitterness and rage. Others think pursuing wealth will get them where they want to go. Some decide to forsake God because he did not give them what they desired.
When we choose to go these ways, the truth is we are lost. We may be confident that we are going to get where we want to go, but there is a far better path, and one that will not lead to regret in taking it. And the signs are easy to find, if we are looking and willing to follow them. Therein lies the challenge. Do we trust God or do we trust ourselves more? When he tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25), will we obey the sign and relax, or follow instead our own instincts which tell us that we have to remain in control of the situation? When he tells us to give generously to meet the needs of others (II Corinthians 9:6 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians+9:6&version=NIV), will we freely let go of our money or possessions, or will we fear the losses and cling to what we have? When he says we are to be bold in expressing and living out our faith, do we believe his promise to provide the courage, or do we allow our fear to overwhelm us (II Timothy 1:7-9)?
In the Scriptures and by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, along our road of life, God directs the ways we should go. If we pay attention, we will never get lost. But rarely can we live life so perfectly. Our instincts will sometimes, or often, get the best of us and we will choose ways we think are better. But even then, the Lord will continue his attempts to re-direct us to a better route. And the sooner we decide to humble ourselves and listen, the better it will be for us.
© Jim Musser 2019