There was a big air show here this weekend. One of the main bridges from north to south was closed down for the event. All week leading up to the event the newscasters have been warning us to plan ahead and make different travel routes in and out of downtown. Another main freeway route is closed down for construction purposes. During the summer months the highways are just a mess and it is better to just avoid them if you can.
I think many of us view issues and problems in life the same way; we want to avoid them at all costs. Many would willingly drive miles and miles out of their way to avoid construction zones, even knowing that it is sometimes better to go through them rather than go around them.
They seem to approach problems and “construction zones” of life in the same way, using distractions as detours to avoid the critical heart work that is to take place in us for the glory of God. The distractions take the form of excessive television or movie watching, internet play, shopping, talking on the phone, or working many hours a day to keep themselves distracted. Sometimes the distractions are more harmful and include excessive alcohol use, taking prescription or non-prescription medicines to dull the senses or even illegal drugs to escape reality.
The good news is that God is the Master Builder and He will not be detoured. If you are a person who has been seeking escape that may not sound like good news to you, but I assure you it is! God is a sovereign and faithful God who knows what He has planned for you. He knows the destination He has in mind for you and what it will take to get you there.
For some of us it means sacrifice; giving up things or people that were important to us because they will not bring about the righteous life that God desires. You may also have to confront various sin issues in your life; acceptable sins that you have tolerated or cultivated thinking they really didn’t matter.
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another… But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:3,9 (NASB)
God will dig up the paths you have been on; sometimes even creating what appears to be an earthquake or what may feel like total destruction in your life. He is revealing and uprooting areas of idolatry and while those times are never pleasant, faith and trust in the God who loves you with an everlasting love will sustain you through the journey. Those times are intentional and purposeful, stripping away everything you count on and lean on that distracts you from Him with the intent of drawing your closer to Him.
I understand these can be discouraging times. Seeing our sin and examining the sinful heart through the eyes of prayer and Scripture should lead us to confession and repentance. It is intended to break us of self-deception and self-justification for sinning. To remove the “Yeah, but’s” from our conversations with God and strip away all our foolish pride.
We can also become discouraged when our lives are taken in a very different direction than the one we wanted to go in. Many a person who thought they had life all figured out and were driving toward their goal has been re-routed and found themselves in a place they never thought they would visit, let alone live there. It is very tempting in those situations to be angry with God for changing our plans. We must be careful to remember we are subordinate to our Maker, placed here to do His will not our own. Every plan is to be submitted to our Lord for His approval, and we must surrender our will to His- willingly if we are going to imitate Christ.
…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2b
Remember that detours are not always bad things! Once, we decided to ignore the “Local Traffic Only” signs at the head of a construction zone. What a mistake that was! Our journey was much longer and far more perilous and hard on the car (and its passengers) than if we would have just taken the detour! Giant holes in the road, huge ditches on both sides, spikes sticking out of the ground were just some of the things we encountered. Those signs are there for a reason; because danger is ahead!
How many of you have wished in hindsight that you would have heeded the warnings of God and not gone down a certain path in your life? In your perceived wisdom you proceeded on a path that you were warned against traveling, and it brought you only pain and heartache and then the discipline of God for your efforts. Listen to the Spirit of God as He speaks to you through the Word. Take heed to those people God has placed in your lives that are wise and discerning!
The best news is that God has the eternal destination of the Believer already secured. Our place will one day be with Him in the heavenlies where we will rule and reign with Him forever. Until then, obey the signs!