GPS systems are as comical sometimes as they are helpful & frustrating, aren’t they? The most recent head-scratching moment of panic they have given me (and others), is when you know a turn is coming, and the voice says,
“In 300 feet, …”
It is at this paused moment, which lasts about one whole second in real time but 10 in one’s head, a panic sets in and 500 hundred thoughts pinball, each of which beckon some sort of immediate reaction. If you thought you had time to change lanes before where you knew you had to turn, you may panic to try and get over. If you are in the correct lane, you may slow way down, causing the person behind you to pump their brakes while you slow at a green light! It’s literally an accident waiting to happen. And then you hear the words that bring a simultaneous sigh of relief and clench of the jaws.
“… Stay on ‘Such and Such’ Road.”
Really? Did you have to pipe in with, “Stay on the road”? I’m good. Don’t tell me anything but where and when to turn. I don’t need to know when to stay on the road; that is what I am doing!
Yet so many of us ask big questions in life like whether to move or to take a job or have a surgery or purchase an item or have their hair cut a certain way. What if we heard, “Stay on the road.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? In our need-for-new society–of which I’ve succumb to more often than I care to admit–we often pray about change more than we pray simply to stay. So often our prayer for change would love a “stay on the road” response.
Maybe the question more often than not should be, “should I stay on the road?” I would love that random, anxiety-inducing phrase my GPS occasionally gives me when it comes to decisions in life. While at work one day, if someone were to say, “You’re a really great fit here in this role,” or “wow, I really like your hair down,” or in your kitchen, “Mom and Dad, I really love my room and our home.” The list goes on. Of course, it could be that these phrases are “stay on the road” phrases that actually don’t sound as clear as they really are.
Scripture is blanketed with “stay on the road” phrases. I wonder if there’s even more of those than “turn here” instructions. Here are some examples:
Be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. Do not turn aside to the right or to the left. – Deuteronomy 5:32-33
In all your ways, acknowledge [God] and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:6
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not do not turn aside to the left or to the right. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so you will be careful to do everything that is in it; then the Lord your God will prosper you and give you possess. Joshua 1:7-8
Granted, these passages are about following the law of the Lord and staying straight on that path, but many more seem to apply to life decisions and directions in which we are to follow. It’s interesting that John the Baptist “made straight” the way of the Lord (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; John 1:23). Paul himself is told to go to Straight Street in order to regain his sight. Peter Lange, in his commentary on the Book of Acts, says it was called “Straight, without a doubt in order to distinguish it from other streets in that ancient city, which were in most cases angulated and crooked” (Lange, 168).
There’s something about “staying on the road” and remaining “straight” that is very encouraging. In the midst of a world that is changing by the second, may you be blessed by the direction, “stay on the road” today. And even if that phrase says to stay on the road and the road takes on a different name, may it be of comfort and encouragement that God really is making his paths straight to you.
I’d love to see your comments below that include other Scripture passages you know that encourage staying on whatever on the path.