Living in a tourist destination, one often finds himself giving directions to visitors by citing entertaining landmarks because, they tend to stand out and attract people's attention when driving past.
I used to lived in North Myrtle Beach, SC. When giving folks directions to my house, I would often say, go past Myrtle Waves water park, and continue past Planet Hollywood. When the highways (the bypass and business route) merge back together, you'll pass through Restaurant Row...keep going until you see the Hawaiian Rumble putt-putt course (rated #1 putt-putt course in the world by the PGA of Mini Golf AND it's where they play the Masters of Mini Golf each year)...I think you can see where I'm heading.
Looking back, I probably should have considered myself fortunate, to have had my guests actually arrive after passing by so many "worthy" distractions.
Fast forward to our current journey away from temptation and towards a renewed mind, and abundant life through walking with the Holy Spirit (the subject of the posts on this blog). What is keeping us from walking more closely with God on a daily basis?
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “23Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16-17, "
Let's learn to call temptation what it is...a series of self indulgent distractions along the way to visit with God. Think about all the stuff that we spend our waking hours doing that keeps our minds occupied, and by default prevents us from serving others in the kingdom of God.
In each case, I would be willing to bet that it is something that we as individuals have convinced ourselves that we need.
- I need to sleep in on Saturday, because I'm tired from working hard during the week.
- I need to catch up on (fill in the blank), because I've been too busy with other things
- I need to take a break from the hustle and bustle and just relax.
While these activities are often indeed physically justified, I wonder just how many times we justify an activity on the heels of temptation. Remember, God never leaves us (Deuteronomy 31:8), we choose to walk away from him when we engage in self-indulgent behaviors.
So, what if we examine what we are stopping off to see (or more preferably, what we are bypassing (and choosing not to indulge in)) on our way to walk with God. Let's imagine that we received handwritten instructions on how to get to God's place:
There are two ways to get here:
- Take the scenic route through the "big city" of Meboro...OR
- Take the Living Way bypass around Meboro and all the "cool stuff to stop and see along the way".
If you choose the Scenic Route, it will take you much longer to get to where you need to be. You'll take Distraction Drive all the way through Meboro. Pass Nap Masters Mattress Super Store. Pass the Gluttonous Gourmetisserie. Pass the College Football Hall Of Fame. Pass the To-Do Voodoo Lounge.
When you get to the end of Distraction Drive, there will be a stoplight. Left goes toward Shadow Valley. A right turn onto His Way Highway will take you through the little towns of Repentance and Redemption, before eventually merging onto the Living Way bypass . You'll backtrack for several miles, as you seem to head back towards Meboro. Be on the lookout for a gateway arch in the distance.You're trying to get to a road called Thanksgiving Turnpike. Once you are on that road, aim for the arched stone gateway.(see the directions from the Living Way bypass below).
A much simpler, quicker way would be to veer off from Distraction Drive at The Great Transition, and onto the Living Way bypass. This will take you around the city of Meboro, and all its distractions. Take the first exit onto Thanksgiving Turnpike...after a short drive, you'll pass underneath a very large arched, stone gateway and then you're on Continuous Praise Court.
Park anywhere. Our Lord and Savior will meet you there.
PS - Don't mind the sheep.
Thanks to Quinn Dombrowski for the fantastic image