I was driving home from Myrtle Beach with my sisters and we came across a heavy load of traffic just as we were passing through the Smokey Mountains. Without traffic, we probably still had four hours left, but with the newfound obstacle in our way, Apple Maps was saying that we had 6 1/2 hours. Oh, the joy! I’m pretty sure that everyone’s patience is sucked out of them whilst in traffic jams, and this case was no different.
About 45 minutes after sitting in traffic, Apple Maps came up with an alternative route that required you to get off an exit about three miles up, that wiggled through tiny mail roads in the mountains, and then to rejoin the main highway on the other side of the disturbance. It shaved almost two hours off the time.
Initially, that seemed like such a good idea. Why wouldn’t we want to take the quicker route? As I drew nearer to the exit, I gave my dad a call, who was driving the car ahead of me, and told him we should get off because it would get us home faster. His response was not what I was wanting to hear, because he said we weren’t going to go that way. Confused, I asked him why we wouldn’t take the faster route. He explained to me that this was the road that was going to bring us home, and that eventually we will get through this traffic. He assured me that every other person in the traffic was also looking at Apple maps, and that every other person would be getting off the small exit in just a few hundred feet, that twisted and turned through the steep, daunting mountains. That road, one that wasn’t meant to be followed by that many people, would get crowded, and form its own traffic jam, or someone in a hurry would get into an accident, and there’s no other way to get out of that line on the side of a mountain.
He was right. A large number of the cars left to get off the exit, allowing traffic to speed up for a while, the load lightened, and things kept moving.
This is life. Sometimes there will be times when we are in rough patches. When things are moving slowly, when we feel like we can’t see the other side of the bridge, or we can’t find the reason that something might be happening. In times of tribulation, we have to call on the one who knows best. Now, God might not tell you whether or not to get off an exit as clearly as my father did, but without the guidance of our Heavenly Father, we will be led astray in life. Just like the road we were on, stuck in traffic, every road block we hit in life will ultimately shape us to be who we are and how we react to them will dictate what happens next.
Sometimes when we choose the way that seems easier or faster, new obstacles come up. We might have to reevaluate the situation, understand where we went wrong, and ask for forgiveness, because there is only one way to heaven, one way home.
Now, the story isn’t over. Eventually the people who strayed off the path had to merge back onto the main road. Lo and behold, it slowed down traffic once again. I couldn’t help but be annoyed that these people took the easy way out of the problem, and then they were trying to get back on my road, the one I had been following all along. It takes a bit of grace to let them merge back in and push you back another car’s length from home. I know I can’t be alone in this feeling of frustration.
This, too, is life. Jesus is the only way to get home. Many times, we get lost, off track, and we are all guilty of trying to take the easy way out of things. But he always lets us back in. Always. There will never be a time we were off the road to his kingdom too long that he will not graciously let you back in. Merge to your heart’s content and he, too, will be contented that you have come back to him.