Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Journey—Finding the Old Road Part 4

I’m sure that we are all on some type of journey in our lives. My journey is to rediscover God and to determine where he is at work and how I can join him in that effort. In order to do that, you have to travel down the old road because that’s where you can find God. God is showing me that the old road is a metaphor and a guide for us on how we should live our lives for Christ. But first you have to find where the old road is.

For years I have traveled the back roads across America, especially Route 66. The old road is anything but easy to find. Over 90% of Route 66 still exists, but you won’t find it on any road map. If you do find it, it’s often difficult to follow because you really never know if you’re on Route 66 or some other old pavement. You can purchase special maps, but it’s no guarantee that you will be able to follow it accurately. Route 66 now has many names. Depending on which state you are in, it could be a county, state or local route designation.

It was commissioned in 1926 and continued to be a work in progress for the next 50 years. It went through multiple pavements, bypasses and upgrades throughout its history. What makes it especially difficult to follow Route 66 is there are many abandoned sections and multiple routes. With so many different alignments, it requires the driver to be dedicated and passionate in his or her efforts to adequately follow the road. Our life as a Christian also requires the same effort if we are to stay on course.

So how do we find the old road? First, we have to accept Christ as our personal Savior. We have to believe in our heart that God is real and he sent his son to die for our sins. By accepting that we are saved. That is the basic requirement for entry to the old road. By doing this we can start our journey. As incredible as this sounds, for many Christians this is as far as they will go. In fact, instead of journeying down the old road, they would rather detour back to the interstate.

For those who wish to journey farther requires us to develop a personal relationship with our Savior. We need to know who God is. What does he want? What is his character, his nature and his value system? We can travel the old road by knowing his Word and then putting it into practice. We can also observe our fellow Christians and learn from their experiences. And through prayer we can begin the process of understanding of how God works in our lives.

As we journey down the old highway, we will encounter the next road sign. As we begin to know God personally, we will be faced with a decision that each Christian must face. Will we make him Lord of our life? And how much are we willing to turn over to him? Whether we realize this, each of us will start to negotiate with God. We are ready to make a deal. We tell God, if you give me what I want, I will turn this percentage of my life over to you. We think we can negotiate with God. All I can say, after many years of experience, good luck with that one. God is not in the business of making deals or negotiating. With him it’s all or nothing. But as we travel down the old highway, we will continue to try to offer God a deal.

What we really want is to follow both the old highway and the interstate. That way we can have the best of both worlds. I’m convinced that many Christians are miserable because they try to travel both roads. At some point along the journey, you are going to learn that it’s one road or the other. As we continue on, some of us will start turning over more of our life to God, and we will reach a tipping point where we start to ask the question, What is his will for me and how can I experience his presence in my life? Can we hear his voice? Absolutely! If we are prepared to stay on the old road.

We stay on the old road by diving into the Word of God, and through people, circumstances and prayer we will start to see Him with more focus. God will speak to us in any way he desires and that includes through nature, objects, and everything in his creation. I have never failed to experience God fully in nature. I have some of my most significant encounters climbing mountains and exploring canyons. It will be different for every person. There is no formula you can follow. Remember, the old road has many curves, dips and corners, and they are different on every old highway.

As you look for God out on the old road and hear his voice, you will reach the final mile post. This one will be the key to knowing how God is at work in the world and knowing how to join him. Some people call it a crisis of faith. The very thing you want the most or that part of your life that you’re holding on to, God will place himself in front of you as a barrier. You will have to make a decision. Are you prepared to finally make him Lord of your life? I’m convinced the reason many of us don’t see God at work in the world is because we have failed the crisis of faith. This is the part of our journey on the old highway where we stop negotiating with God. Remember, we’re not buying a car here. God does not negotiate. He offers his deal and his plan and it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition.

After you pass this final mile post, you will start seeing God at work in places you never imagined. The interstate will be a past memory, and you will wonder why you ever spent so much time there. Traveling the old road is about building the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom that God is building will look vastly different than anything we can imagine. Are you ready to take the off ramp? God is out there on the old road looking for you.

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