What do we do when we come up on detours in our daily commutes? Do we ignore them and get stuck in a position where we have to turn around? Do we follow them? Have you ever been on a detour where you’ve been unquestionably lost? We might have missed a sign while following other cars; a marker may have been misplaced or marked incorrectly; and we unquestioningly ended up in entirely the wrong place. We not only completely avoided the dangerous area of road, but we also managed to accidentally avoid our destination.
A Road, Not a Detour
In John 17:15, Jesus prays for the well-being of His disciples, and He prays that they might have the protection they need to keep them from evil. See, our faith is not a detour around the trials and temptations of this world. Instead, it is a path right through the dangers of our world to lead us to a safe destination in the end. In this same prayer, Jesus prays that His disciples not be “of the world,” in verse 14, even while they live “in the world” (verse 11). Where our faith is the road we travel, the things of this world can serve as detours themselves, distracting us from our chosen path.
In Luke 6:12-13, when Jesus chooses his disciples, He does not conduct interviews, check references, or cite popular opinion polls. No, instead He prays to God for guidance. When we seek out these other things – popular opinion, following others – we are easily detoured. Only by trusting in God and living prayerfully can we hope to keep on the correct path without diversion. Then we can be in the world without being of the world, just as a ship must be in the sea without the sea being in the ship.
Remembering Our Surroundings
Staying on God’s path does not mean disregarding this world He created. In fact, the deeper our connection with God, the deeper our connection with the world around us. Knowing Christ awakens a more powerful concern for those around us. Even though it’s a pain, road construction usually makes our commutes a little better when it is finished. Can we say the same about ourselves? Do we leave this world a better place when we pass by?
Roads always have to be torn up before they can be rebuilt, and we will have disagreements and moments or stress with our fellow workers in Christ. We might feel torn up, or we might tear into another. We can, however, learn from those times and work toward building each other up, reconstructing ourselves into a stronger church. The problem comes when a road is torn up and forgotten. Sometimes we might hurt a brother or sister, tear them down unintentionally even, and be negligent in our responsibility to build them back up.
Bringing Others to God’s Road (And Keeping Ourselves On Too)
Remember Saul of I Samuel 17:11. All he did was complain about Goliath, looking to man for the solution instead of to God. What about Paul and Silas in prison. Instead of dealing with their situation as ones with no hope, they lived the path they followed and brought another along with them in the end. WHen we’re working with others, are we trying to bring them to God’s highway or to our own?
When we come to a crisis in our spiritual path, how do we respond? In Genesis 22, Abraham responds to a crisis presented by God with faith and obedience. We will be tested in this life. We will come to forks in our road. When we hit these rough spots, we should be relying on God’s directions more than man’s. We can scour all over our Bibles and see people who have responded to crisis in faith (Paul, Apollos, Timothy) versus those who were detoured by roadblocks in their paths (Demas, John Mark, Ananias and Sapphira). Who will we be more like?
What road are you on? Have you chosen broader and easier paths, or have you chosen to walk in Jesus footsteps up the narrow way of salvation? Only one will take you to a final destination with God, but, in striving toward that goal, we cannot be derailed by the detours in our lives. If we place our faith and hope in Him, if He is the source of our strength and hope, then we can find our way home, even when they way seems dark.
lesson by Mike Mahoney