On a recent trip to Dallas, I thought I would do a little exploring and maybe discover a short cut. I knew where I was and I knew how to get from there to where I was going as I had driven the same route several times in the past. So I decided to give it a go and try a different route. It didn’t work out so well. The road I tried was not as smooth as the one I should have taken. There was more traffic and more stop lights, most of which seemed to turn red just as I got there. Then to top it off, the road ended before I got to my destination.
I was not really lost but had that same uncomfortable feeling as I looked at the dead end sign and tried to figure out how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. Even though I had a good idea of how to do that, there was still a sense of unease as I approached each new intersection. It was also a relief when I finally got back on track and knew for sure where I was. I was lost, but now I was found.
Matthew 19:16-22 tells the story of the rich young man. He knew what the law said and had always obeyed it, but knew that somehow something was missing. He needed something more. So he asked Jesus what was required, hoping for a pat on the back and being told that he was already doing all that was needed, or at least a shortcut from where he was to where he wanted to be.
It didn’t work out that way for him, as we see in Jesus’ answer in Matthew 19:21-22. “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”(NIV)
Life is a journey of discovery and growth that is every bit as complicated as the most difficult road trip. It is a journey in which we will be confronted by all sorts of hazards and temptations far worse than anything we will see on the highways.
God does not want us to get lost or end up in the ditch along the way. So he has placed hazard signs, the Ten Commandments along the way to warn us of danger. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, and he gave us the Holy Bible as a guidebook so we could make the most of the journey and enjoy all of God’s creation.
And yet, many people set off each day without seeking God’s guidance and protection to wander the byways of life trusting to chance. I find that the day goes better when I start it with some prayer time.
John R. Fowler is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.