The Road: Life & Life Only
So I carried on, you can't be haunted by the past
People come, people go
And nothing ever lasts
Everything was fine—blue skies as far as could be seen and a four lane expressway with wide open spaces.
The man behind the wheel had the world on a string—nothing was going to intrude on his intentions. He had no particular destination in mind, but was merely running free. He relished the feeling of being in control which was enhanced by an autumn breeze streaming through the sunroof. He had a skewed perspective—he considered himself to be the master of his destiny.
Old familiar tunes were blaring over the speakers. The engine purred. The rubber hummed on the hot pavement. Miles were disappearing to wherever it is faraway places go.
All of a sudden everything went haywire. The speedometer was hitting triple digits when a blowout sent the car into a tailspin.
Startled and unprepared, the driver panicked. His hands fumbled on the steering wheel as his foot pumped the brake pedal.
The Chevy skidded sideways. His breath was stuck in his lungs as though there was a thick cork jammed in his throat. It all happened fast, yet there was this crazy slow motion effect accompanied by a screeching, screaming soundtrack. The car did a three-sixty, and then scudded and rocked to a gravel splattering stop on the far shoulder facing the opposite direction he had been traveling.
Cold sweat was pouring out of him. He steadied his breathing and attempted to focus his senses. He released his white-knuckled grip and let out a low, fierce groan. The first words out of his mouth were not laced with gratitude for being safe and unharmed. Instead he cussed vehemently—in teeth clenching anger he took the Lord’s name in vain.
He pushed open the door and slid out. He walked around the vehicle, all the while muttering and complaining. The left-rear tire was shredded. He realized he had been extremely lucky, but rather than appreciating his good fortune, he grumbled and spat curses.
It was unfair—he was mad so he swore some more. He hadn’t even seen whatever it was that caused the puncture—it had come out of nowhere to disrupt his agenda and timeline. He kicked what remained of the tire. He paced back and forth. His carefully constructed plans were now ruined.
But I still think about you
And wonder where you are
Can you see me from some place
Up there among the stars?
Life is like that, isn't it? It slows us down from time to time so we have a chance to assess or adjust our direction. We can be coasting along on cruise control when a flat-tire or sharp curve in the road causes us to pressure the brakes.
It can be anything. A distressed phone call from hundreds of miles away; a courageous battle against cancer; an unfolding tragedy we have no control over; a media report about disturbing societal trends; a lightning strike that sizzles junction boxes and knocks out all electronics; a corporate decision made behind closed doors; governmental ineptitude in handling the rudimentary basics of Economics 101.
Our attitudes tend to drift, requiring us to recalibrate them to timeless truth. The wise response to potholes or winding roads is to take stock of what is truly important. We should measure our connection to family and friends; we should contemplate our spiritual dimension. Pauses in the traffic jams of our lives can be meditative moments for us to reflect on the deeper meaning of commonplace events or circumstances.
There are no accidents or coincidences. Twists in the road are designed to promote healthy self-examination that results in positive action.
The bad news is that we can be pigheaded, so sometimes it takes a near disaster for us to explore our relationship with our Maker; the good news is that nasty turns can be the catalyst for even hardened skeptics and agnostics to become introspective about the mysteries of God.
Everyone desires purpose. No one wants to treadmill his or her way down dead-end lanes. We all want to come to terms with the big questions about existence, but in typical stiff-necked mode we insist that the Creator must fit the parameters of our requirements and expectations.
History proves that Paul of Tarsus was correct about our genetic predisposition to fashion God into a self-gratifying image: “What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.”
There is a hollow place within us that craves significance. We attempt to satisfy its appetite by being true to our natural instincts. Our human inclination is to pursue financial success and personal pleasure by traveling along avenues offering varying degrees of fame and fortune.
But down here under heaven
There never was a chart To guide our way across this
Crooked highway of the heart
And if it's only all about
The journey in the end
On that road I'm glad I
Came to know my old friend
An ancient Hebrew king named Solomon exhibited the classic pattern. He indulged in an excessive quest for self-fulfillment. He tried everything his society offered but to no avail. He achieved all the wealth, power and laurels possible, yet according to his own assessment, it was all “chasing after the wind.” There was no substance or value in any of it.
Contentment escaped him. Then he evaluated all his experiences.
During a long retrospective period he determined that when God is removed from the equation, all human endeavors are meaningless: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Life will knock us to our knees. We live in a corrupt world where no one is immune from its dysfunctional backlashes. In our fragility, we are in constant need of heaven’s help.
We ought to include God in our lives, but in the rat-race culture of self-actualization, our tendency is to ignore him. We keep God in some mythical God-slot to be opened only in case of emergencies.
Sometimes we box our lives into such structured compartments that we treat spirituality like it’s a fast-food meal: “Would you like God with that?”
After all, we can’t have him mixing in with the rest of our lives, can we? Yes, as a matter of fact, we can. And that, friends and neighbors, is the point.
Contrary to the customary practice of acknowledging God only in the tough situations, we must learn to focus on him so that he impacts every area of our lives. God is not some smorgasbord item to be added or passed over. He is our loving Heavenly Father—he desires to be involved in all our highs and lows.
In reality, we are to strive to live God-centric lives where our choices, our plans and our dreams all flow from that vital relationship. When we invest the necessary effort in an intense relational emphasis, even hairpin turns are seen as merely the ongoing process of change that is life and life only.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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