Have you ever wanted to drive right past that sign that says, “Dead End” ? Maybe the palatial mansions ahead beckon you to venture a safe distance down the road. Or maybe you are a dyed-in-the wool risk takers or adrenaline junkie that just loves the rush of an unknown adventure, figuring you’ll stop just before you spin the wheels into a screeching halt.
What is it that entices us down that road? Could it be our basic, rebellious, fallen nature; or is it the lure of experiencing the forbidden; or perhaps the bragging rights to say we did it and survived. WooHoo! What a ride! Yet that sign is there for our protection whether danger lies ahead or it prevents us from driving around in circles and losing time.
What’s true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. How often do we head down a “Dead End” road when it comes to spiritual matters? Temptation lurks around every corner. Behind that “Dead End” sign, the road glistens with familiar tempting encounters that prod us into thinking, “I can handle this. I’ve been down this road before and I know just where I need to stop.”
It could be that smile from the handsome man with the dimple sitting across the room from us that says, “Come here, I just wanted to tell you something.” Or there’s the contrasting road that seems so innocent because it only involves a third or fourth chocolate-dipped cookie or another bowl of ice cream or maybe an extra helping of a healthy chicken salad. Is there really a “Dead End” at the entrance there? What about our tendency to put a few extra pennies aside for a rainy day instead of digging deep into our pockets to help someone at the homeless shelter down the road? Any warning signs here? The list of spiritual detours could hit every major temptation and sin known to man from laziness to envy from anger to pride.
But the question is what do we do when a “Dead End” sign pops into our thoughts? It’s a spiritual warning just like the physical road sign saying that wisdom dictates we need to stop dead in our tracks. It’s there to protect us from ourselves. From hurting others. From destroying the abundant life Jesus came to give us.
While overeating or flirtatious glances in compromising situations may not be our hazardous roads, what about those negative thoughts that rattle around our minds or anxious thoughts about the future that start the unconscious hair twisting? In what situation do you see that “Dead End” sign pop up or hear the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit? They really are the same thing. So what is the solution?
One of my dangerous roads too often traveled, I’m ashamed to admit, has hairpin turns marked with angry churning thoughts, usually aimed at someone in our home. I’ve heard that “Dead End” voice–the Holy Spirit’s warning–sometimes appearing complete with flashing caution lights revolving in my mind. But I have recklessly pushed past all the warning signs and headed for the cliff because I thought I knew better. I thought I had the right to storm down this road designated “Express Yourself.” As I skidded around a corner, one I foolishly thought I could navigate, suddenly I have spun out of control and crashed.
Much later, after assessing the damage to myself and others I have taken along on this heedless ride, I realize I had been given a warning ahead of time to stay off that road. It would only lead to a “Dead End.” Often, God in His mercy, has snagged me from the one large limb hanging off the cliff, reeled me back in, and repaired the damage my angry words had caused. But, somehow, like a car that has nearly been totaled, the lingering effects of a crunched vehicle or spirit sometimes never go away and we learn to limp through life with the affects of an accident. Fortunately, God is in the premium restoration business and is a pro at producing beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
So what is the solution to prevent us from careening off a spiritually hazardous road:
- Be aware of which bends in the road lead us down detours. For each of us the temptations will be different.
- Put on our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:12-17)
- Be on guard when the “Dead End” sign pops up, especially on a road we instinctively know is treacherous for us.
- Be willing to heed the quiet warning signs or sometimes the blaring ones that the Holy Spirit sends. For me, this is a crucial step to penetrate my otherwise risk-taking, rebellious nature.
- And once we listen, we need to submit to His loving warnings even when we think we can go just far enough and not crash. God puts up the “Dead End” sign because He knows what’s at the end of the road and inbetween. I don’t.
I need to trust His soft whispers and His blaring caution lights if I want to arrive at my final destination safely, complete, and filled with joy because of the wild ride God has planned for me. Not the one I planned.
Proverbs is full of many admonitions to keep us safe. Below are just a couple. Search out some more for your own encouragement.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8 NIV
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble;” Proverbs 3:24 NIV
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later: ‘I’ll give it tomorrow’–when you now have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28 NIV
“A fool gives full bent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11
“For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Proverbs 30:33
From My Heart To Yours,
Linking with Essential Fridays, Weekend Brew, The Friday Five, Sunday Stillness, Spiritual Sundays, The Beauty in His Grip