The sign said, “WARNING! THIS ROAD NOT MAINTAINED BY THE CITY.”
It was winter, with snow on the ground. I was on my lunch break and decided to eat at a nearby lake. But then, I remembered there were two more lakes I’d never been to…just up over that hill. Taking a good look at the road, it appeared to be in good shape. Despite the warning sign, I felt confident to go exploring. After all, I’d lived in Alaska for three years by then and was quite impressed with how well I'd adapted to driving on ice and snow.
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25
Oblivious to danger, I started up the road, enjoying the beauty of the snow-covered trees. It was truly a winter wonderland. About a quarter mile up the hill, as I savored the beauty of the moment, my tires began to spin, and I completely lost traction. Placing my foot on the break, I thought to myself, “It’s no big deal. I can slowly back down.”
At this point, I still didn’t have a clue as to the danger I was in…. Until my car began to slide in short jerky movements backwards; and because I was positioned backwards, I couldn’t tell how close I was to the edge of the road. I realized that at any second, I might plunge into the lake below.
Suddenly, my little lunchtime adventure turned into several long minutes of terror.
When I’m driving forward and hit ice, I know to turn my wheel into the slide. But, now I was sliding backwards down a hill and I tried to figure out which way to turn my wheel; I was running out of time. I had to do something, so, praying in loud shrieks for God’s divine intervention, I yanked my steering wheel to the left. Nothing happened. Mustering my courage, I yanked my steering wheel to the right. Nothing happened. I had no idea what else to do.
An eternity seemed to pass, when suddenly, my car spun 180 degrees, and I was facing downhill. With shaking hands, and a pounding heart, I drove back down; shocked that I was out of danger and unharmed. With full awareness of how close I came to a disaster, I pulled over to park, so I could calm down.
That’s how quickly life can change.
In His infinite love and wisdom, God knows how insidiously the enemy can creep in. Just like I ignored the warning sign and found myself in quite a predicament, when we ignore God’s warnings, life has a way of spinning out of control, and we find ourselves sliding over the edge.
For example, In Ephesians 5:15-18, God exhorts:
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (destructive behaviors). Instead, be filled with the Spirit."
God knows what can result after one too many drinks. What often starts out as a "good time," potentially ends in a hangover, poor judgment, a DUI, or even manslaughter behind the wheel.
Instead of a temporary escape, God offers Himself; His Spirit living in us, empowering us and filling us with a lasting peace.
Escape comes in many forms; it is not limited to drugs and alcohol. It includes anything we use to cope, instead of running to God. Some overindulge with food, some turn to unhealthy sexual relationships, while others over spend or get carried away with a hobby. And, let's not ignore approval addiction and works-righteousness within the church. All these things keep us from experiencing the peace God offers.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
There was a time in my life, when I didn't trust God's love for me. I believed His instructions were overly strict and demanding, so I chose to live according to the world’s culture and my own moral compass. I avoided things that would obviously send my life barreling over a cliff, but, there were other things, warned against by God, that I did, convincing myself I wasn’t hurting anyone. No longer blinded by the enemy, I can now look back and see how the destructive choices I made built fortified strongholds with a host of repercussions, from which I continue to heal.
But God's warnings are not limited to the prodigal, the one who blatantly follows the world. He also warns those who consistently attend church and proclaim their faith, while picking and choosing which commands to heed.
In Luke 6, after teaching the people to love their enemies, not judge them, Jesus made it clear that there are those who claim to follow Him, but do not obey His commands.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? ...the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.” v 46, 49
Regardless of where each of us are in our walk, and no matter what we struggle with; despite where our hearts are, God's warnings are for our good. He is THE SOURCE of true peace and joy.
As I write these words, it is Thanksgiving morning. Reflecting on the fullness of His blessings in my life, I am especially grateful that He never gave up on me. I'm thankful, He taught me with great patience, that He is for me; not against me.
His love for us is beyond our comprehension. His love is genuine; it is relentless; it is reality!
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In Christ, our Source of righteousness and power,