Tuesday, April 7, 2015


In May of 1979 myself and my friends Alan Brown and Carl Semmler left Greensboro, NC for a month long road trip. Traveling in my dad's Honda Civic Wagon (his name was Clyde) we made stops in Chattanooga, New Orleans, San Antonio and Flagstaff. We visited the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. We made it to Las Vegas to visit my uncle and his family before heading to LA. The trip may sound orderly and well planned, but trust me- it was anything but. There were far too many misadventures to recount them all here today, but I do want to share one. Our plan was to leave southern Cali and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. Upon further review before leaving LA we discovered three major problems. First, we were on the west coast and had to get back to the east coast, and we were already running short on funds. Secondly, this was during the first major gas crisis in our country, and the state of CA was rationing. You could only buy gas every other day, based on your license plate numbers. And finally, and most decidedly, we learned there has been a major mudslide a week or so earlier, and large portions of the PCH we impassable. Closed to all traffic- even Clyde. So with much regret, we gave up on seeing San Fran and began the trek back east. To this day, I have still never been. Sacramento was as close as I ever got.

Every journey comes with roadblocks. Life on the #NarrowRoad is no different. Some are just irritants, little hassles that can be handled fairly easily with a small change of direction. Some require full detours that take us places we had never planned to go, changing both our direction and our timing. And sometimes, even as we follow Jesus, the roadblocks we encounter are mudslides that bury the path in a way that simply makes us stop. There is nothing to do but re-evaluate our goals and our map and seek the direction that Jesus would have us go. And that can be a real pain, occasionally leaving us lost and frustrated.

The question is not "Will we encounter roadblocks as we try to follow Jesus?" We will, and they will come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be potholes, easily maneuvered  around. Some will be wrecks that block one lane but allow us to choose another. Some will be 5 car pile-ups that back traffic up for hours. And sometimes the road will be buried under mud, or the bridge will be out. The question is not "if." The question is "How do we respond when detours arise or the road is closed?" Are we easily frustrated? Are we easily defeated? Do we give up when the easy path is shut down and we are forced to go a more difficult way? The #NarrowRoad is narrow for a reason. It takes work, dedication, sacrifice and commitment to travel it with any level of success. Too many times the roadblocks stop us in our tracks. To really follow Jesus, we have to break through. We have to love when others don't, care when others won't, and find ways to bring praise to the One who made us.

There is a point, however, when the highway analogy breaks down. On a road trip, our goal is generally to get where we WANT to go. On the #NarrowRoad, we seek destinations where God NEEDS us to be. Sometimes the very things that seem to block our paths are God's means of redirecting us. Sometimes these are subtle. And sometimes they are anything but. Think abut the stories from scripture. Noah's roadblock was being asked to build a boat when there was no water. Moses was given a speaking engagement with a king when he had a speech impediment. David was asked to slay a giant with a rock; he later had to bounce back from great sexual sin to lead God's people as he chose King. Peter denied knowing Jesus; the other disciples ran away and hid when the Messiah needed them. Paul was shipwrecked, beaten and thrown in jail. And all of them wound up exactly where God need them to be!

My query for us all today is this- what are the things in our lives that we see as roadblocks but are actually God sending us a new direction? On that 1979 trip we has to skip northern California, and I really wanted to go. But here's the deal. If we hadn't been roadblocked into starting back when we did and on the route we did, we would have missed some of the most amazing adventures of that trip. So embrace life's roadblocks. There just may be something amazing awaiting on the other side.

Because of Jesus,

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