Saturday, June 10, 2017

Directions

Photo by MacieKlew 2015


I had a dream that I was walking in the streets of New York City at dusk. I needed to go home and was looking for the train station. I had set out in a rush, assuming I was headed in the right direction, but I soon realized that I was lost and heading into a bad section of town. There were tracks along the street and then a dead end, with an open area where construction was going on, but only one man was working there.

I asked him for directions to the train station, but he looked puzzled. “You know you’re headed the wrong way, don’t you?”

“OK, so how do I get there?” I asked defensively.

“Some girls go this way,” he said, indicating with his right hand. “It takes longer – about 3 or 4 hours -- but it doesn’t aggravate their allergies.”

“I can’t be walking that long – I have to get home tonight.”

He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his left. “That way will take you about 25 minutes.”

So I thanked him hurriedly and took off on the second path, trying not to breathe too deeply, as I am prone to allergies. About half an hour later I found myself on a busy street, but nothing looked familiar, and I still saw no signs of the train station.

I went into a hotel lobby to ask for directions. A party was going on, and some of the guests seemed to know me, but I didn’t recognize them. One of the women invited me to help myself to gourmet food from the lavish buffet, and another asked me to join her at karaoke.

I knew I had to get going if I had any hope of making it home before nightfall, but I reasoned that one of the women might offer me a lift home, as the party seemed to be wrapping up. But it dragged on and on, and I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room, hoping that I could slip out unnoticed.

Once in the ladies’ room, I realized to my horror that my purse was missing! I mentally retraced my steps, wondering if I had left it in the lobby, near the buffet, or in the room where they were singing karaoke, or even worse, if one of my long-lost “friends” had taken it! As I ran out to look for it, one of the women grabbed my arm and dragged me over to the microphone to sing a duet with her.

I didn’t want to make a scene, so I attempted to sing along, even though I had never heard the song before and there were no words on the screen. I attempted to read her lips and follow the notes she was singing, but soon realized I was embarrassing myself and her, and the others were laughing. Even worse, my hopes of finding my purse, reaching the train station, and getting home grew increasingly dim.

I awoke in a panic, realizing that if we don’t get the right directions, we’ll never get to the right destination. What seems to be a short cut not only wastes our time, but may prevent us from getting there at all. Time once lost can never be regained; opportunities wasted lead to loss of rewards; and wrong decisions can have disastrous consequences.

Following directions is key to success in any project, even in the earthly realm, but they must be the right directions. If we are trying to install a computer system, it will do us no good to follow directions written for assembling a bookcase, and the end result will leave us sorely disappointed.

Having the right direction is essential to our eternal destiny. All roads do not lead to Heaven, but only the path of faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God and God Himself, Who died to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), that all who trust Him would have eternal life (John 3:16).

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). He also emphasized that He alone is the narrow Gate leading to Heaven, which few find, because they go the way of the broad gate, which leads to death and destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

The way of the world, which offers short cuts to success, extravagant lifestyle, popularity, and recognition, may seem to lead to these rewards for some people, at least for a time or even for a lifetime. But what good are these temporal rewards if a man loses his soul while seeking them? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36)

Some who choose the way of the world are disappointed and broken early on, which may be a blessing in disguise if it leads to recognizing that man’s sin nature deserves nothing but eternal punishment in hell (Romans 3:23; 6:23); that he cannot do enough good deeds to outweigh his sin (Ephesians 2:8-9); and that he desperately needs the Savior Who paid for his sins in full to set him free (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

Following the world’s signposts to success may seem easier and more fulfilling, as so many unsaved people believe, but that path leads only to ultimate destruction and death if it bypasses the Savior (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25; Ephesians 2:1-3). We cannot expect the world to give us the right directions, which may be why there was only one person in my dream giving directions at all, and he provided a warning about the short cut that was cryptic at best.

Satan is the great deceiver (John 8:44; 2 John 1:7), so he will gloss over the dangers of following the world and highlight the pleasures of sin, which Scripture tells us last only for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Lost souls may encourage believers to join in their pastimes, but they are seldom motivated for concern for our welfare. Once we sink to their level, they may even revel in our distress, as did the audience for the karaoke duet fiasco in my dream.

Pleasurable activities in the world now ruled by the devil may seem to be their own reward, but they are a poor and empty substitute for true fulfillment in walking with the Lord (Romans 8:1,4; Galatians 5:16,25). Only He can lead us to high places in Him (Habakkuk 3:19; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6).

Time wasted on these seemingly innocent pursuits (Hebrews 12:1) may result in losing God’s best opportunities He has planned for each of His children since before the beginning of time (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11). God gave us free will to accept salvation or reject it. Once we are born again (John 3:3-8), we still have free will to make the right choices that will lead us closer to Him (James 4:8), or the wrong choices that will lead us astray (Psalm 51:1-4).

Making the right choices requires trusting God, Who has all wisdom (Psalm 139:6), power (Jeremiah 32:27) and love (1 John 4:8), with all our heart, rather than our own limited understanding. If we consult Him before embarking on our daily journey, rather than turning to Him as a last resort once we get in trouble, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Once we are truly saved, we will never lose our salvation (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:39). But bad decisions have consequences that may lead to loss of fellowship with and joy in the Lord (Psalm 51:12), loss of God’s best blessings for our life on earth (James 4:3), loss of eternal rewards (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), and even loss of life, if our conscience becomes so seared that God will get more glory from our death than from our testimony (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Born-again Christians desiring to follow Christ must walk a fine line between being in the world, where we can witness and minister to the lost, and of the world, where there is no distinction between us and the lost in our lifestyle, character, and behavior (John 17:11-15; 2 Corinthians 6:14). We must have spiritual discernment that recognizes and inures us to the negative effects of sin (Matthew 7:15-23), perhaps symbolized in the dream by allergies.

If we have allergies, we still go about our daily lives, but we avoid locales that will aggravate our nasal passages and immune systems, even if it means taking a longer or less convenient route. And if our conscience is attuned to God’s still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), we will stay away from temptation.

May God grant us wisdom to use His Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105), to lead us by His direction to our eternal home in Heaven! May we not get lost in the back alleys, but follow the narrow, straight path of salvation by His grace!

© 2017 Laurie Collett


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6 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie,
    Although it can be a frightening thing getting lost in an unfamiliar city, fortunately I cannot recall such an incident from when I was a lone backpacker. But I do recall the moment when I fell victim to a pickpocket, one Friday afternoon whilst on a train from Pisa to Florence. With my traveller's chequebook gone, I was literally penniless over that weekend back in 1980. I had no other option but to live on the generosity of the hotel owner I was staying at until my refund from the city bank was successful on the Monday morning, with which I had to reimburse the hotel owner before boarding the train for my next destination.
    It was a hard way to learn a lesson, which is to be more careful when handling money and documents whilst alone abroad.
    An excellent post, God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      The scariest episode of getting lost in a foreign city that I can recall was in Moscow in 1991, when we and another couple taking part in a major dance show there decided one evening to go out on our own and see the circus. But there is safety in numbers, and what could have been a disaster turned out to be a memorable adventure.
      Thanks as always for sharing your insights, and God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. I love Psalm 119! Indeed, Amen ... may God grant us wisdom to use His Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Sharing this Biblestudy (from Biblehub) with you: "The word of God is like a torch or lamp ton man in a dark night. It shows him the way; it prevents his stumbling over obstacles, or failing down precipices, or wandering off into paths which would lead into danger, or would turn him away altogether from the path to life. Study also 2 Peter 1:19. God bless you!!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Ariella! It is no accident that Psalm 119, which stresses the importance of God's Word, is the longest book of the Bible! Even its internal structure, with verses beginning with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order, speaks to God's awesome majesty. May God bless you richly! Laurie

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  3. Great post. Unfortunately, many people do not consider this is even more dangerous spiritually than it is physically. By simply reading God's directions we could avoid so many problems.

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    1. Thanks, Donald! So true, that God loved us enough to give us His Word (Jesus) and His Word (Scripture) to lead and guide us. God bless,
      Laurie

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