Driving west on I-80 in Iowa, we followed another car for about half an hour before we both exited for the rest stop. Gesturing at road signs, the passengers shot looks at each other several times, but I thought nothing of it. After using the facilities, my wife and I observed the foursome huddled around the map with bold red “you are here” arrow, arguing among themselves. The driver stopped me to ask for directions, explaining they’d come from Davenport and were on their way to Peoria, where in less than an hour, the girl was scheduled to open an important social event as Queen. “Oh my”, I replied; “Peoria is about 3 hours back that-a-way”.
So how does a driver miss the mile markers posted every mile or the large green and white traffic signs that count down the miles to the next city or interchange? You’d think that first sign “Iowa City 40 miles” would have told the driver they were headed in the wrong direction. Surely “Iowa City 30 miles” would have had the driver looking for the nearest exit or prompted the passenger in the front of the car to dig through the glove-box for a map. Even if completely oblivious to all the road signs, it was early evening and we were driving into the sun. Last I checked, it still sets in the west and Peoria was to the east. Not pulling off the road until the DOT rest stop after Iowa City? No way.
Lord knows I’m not immune to getting lost and refusing to ask for directions. I’ll never forget the time we took 2 vehicles to a concert in Yakima 3-4 hours away when after a potty stop, I took the wrong freeway on-ramp and was driving back toward Seattle, unawares. That is, until I spotted Dad and my brother, Dan across the median driving in the opposite direction and pointing at me to turn around. Even now, 40 years later, that interchange on I-90 near Cle Elum confuses me. At least now I have a GPS to get me pointed in the right direction!
So why is it so difficult for a man to stop and ask for directions? Even one who knows he’s lost? And what makes us think that doing what everyone else is doing is right, or more importantly, what God wants from us?
This time of year, Christmas-time, always brings up a torrent of thoughts and emotions for me from which countless mind-numbing questions emerge. None are more difficult for me to answer than this one:
How is it the Bible can so clearly and consistently declare the will of God for men, yet they neither hear nor obey, but instead, “celebrate Jesus” via weekly religious services, the annual celebration of “Christmas” on December 25th and “Easter”, whenever religious tradition happens to schedule it**?
Blind. Born blind. All of us. And stubborn. As hell. “Brute beast” said Asaph in the Psalms. “Stiff-necked” – that’s what the prophet said. That’s the only answer I can come up with. The Father has told us what He wants from/for us, but we do our own thing and expect Him to be satisfied with it.
“Lord, Lord! Didn’t I do all those great and wonderful things in your name?”
“Take a hike. I never knew you.”
Like driving past countless mile markers and road signs, oblivious to their warning, do Christians ever look to the Spirit and the Word to assess the direction they’re going? Or have they simply decided to keep driving in what so clearly is the wrong direction?
While there are many enjoyable sights and sounds at Christmas-time, I am nonetheless grieved by the blind ignorance of men which is never more evident than during their rote holiday celebrations.
Isn’t it time to admit “I’m lost”? And to stop and ask Him for directions?
** This begs a 2nd question I’ve been known to ask hard-core church-goers who insist the celebrations of Christmas and Easter are Biblical: “How is it we celebrate the BIRTH of Christ on a fixed-date (December 25th), but the RESURRECTION of Christ can be celebrated as early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th?”