Road Blocks

Ah, driving.

The highway is a special place.  Driving along the highway reveals so many things about human nature; it almost makes one laugh at how simple we must be, that our very souls may be lain bare by something so simple as asphalt, heavy machinery, and wheels to steer them by.  Yes, driving reveals the competition of wills like nothing else I know of.  Cars and trucks attempting to share the same pavement, handled by drivers with differing opinions of lawlessness, acceptable speeds, and a strange belief held by each that they possess the space they move in and none have the right to transgress it.

I was driving down the highway some time ago when a simple proverb came to mind, which has stuck with me ever since. The proverb went something like this: “Most men believe their lives have a purpose, but refuse to believe the same about the man who gets in their way.”

The more I have thought about this statement, the more I have decided it is sadly true – and the more I am becoming one who prays for those men to get in my way.

Of course, I’m thinking first of our lives in general.  From day to day, we each embark upon a path toward one thing or another, intending to do many things.  And some of these things become hampered in the course of the day by the actions of someone else.  The natural part of us tends to get frustrated or aggravated at being hindered in our pursuits – but on those occasions when we are pursuing something foolish or even wrong, isn’t it a providence that someone might get in our way?

Hence, my prayer for such road blocks.  Occasionally I see this prayer answered while cruising down the highway.  I’m rolling along the highway at a happy pace and suddenly some slower driver pulls into my lane and interrupts me.  In my holier moments, I might recognize that God may have specific purposes in slowing me down – for example, it may serve to prevent or avoid an accident farther down the road.  And in these holy moments, I am glad for the interruption.

Sadly, such holier moments are few.  My wife will read this post, so I will confess: most times I grunt loudly, agonizingly, or plainly verbalize how absurd it is that this other driver moved into my path.  I switch lanes and speed up.  The slow driver might even get a “special” look as I pass him by.

But my holier view really is nearer the truth.  I must believe this, if I believe there is One in heaven who sees all the deeds of all men in all places (Psalm 33).  The reality, though I’d rather not admit it, is that God does put people in our path, for purposes all His own – and not only this, but by God we ourselves at times must be such roadblocks for others.

There is another proverb (this time, biblical) which I read years ago.  In Proverbs 24, the wise man writes, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”  In light of the many things listed elsewhere among the Proverbs which the writer says lead to death, this is no small thing. For example, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (16:25).  A foolish person may do lots of things which seem right to him or her, little knowing that in the end it leads to death.  They (and, often, the “they” is actually “we”) need someone to stand in their way, to hold them back from stumbling toward destruction.

As an encouragement, let us remember that we have an example of this – Christ did this first for us!  He rescued us who were being taken away by our sin to death, He held back the souls of those who stumbled toward slaughter.  And praise God that the Spirit does this still.  It’s a work that only He can do to the fullest degree.

But in a small way He often uses us to do this in the lives of others.  When we see someone stumbling toward destruction, someone being tempted down the wide path, by the grace of God we can step into their way and act as roadblock for them.  I am reminded of a quote by Jim Elliott, who hoped that his life would act as a crossroads for everyone he met, either to choose Christ or reject Him.  When we stand in someone’s path, we are such a turning point.  But with grace, tenderness, and care, perhaps we may hold them back.

Awkward?  Certainly.  Uncomfortable?  My, yes.  But in so doing, you are holding out to them the One who said He is the Way, the only Way.  And, by God, the one whose path you stepped into might just turn in a new direction.

Of course, some won’t turn; pray for them.  And pray also that God would continue to bring brothers and sisters in your life to stand in your path when you begin to veer toward folly – we all need such help!

One thing: when God answers that prayer, please, don’t give those people your own “special” looks.

 

David Ritterbush is a nobody. He believes Christ and occasionally forgets. David has volunteered with Transform Student Ministry since 2006, and happened to meet his wife there.

 

 

 


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