In the spring of 1998, I purchased a vehicle while living in Long Island, New York which was a white 1988 Toyota Camry. It had tinted windows, a sunroof and though it had over ninety thousand miles on it, the car was still a good and reliable to drive.
Shortly after purchasing my Camry from of deacon in my church, I went back home during the summer to visit my family which lived in Detroit, Michigan. I left early in the morning about five AM and arrived in Detroit after six PM that evening. The entire trip was eleven hours drive through New York, New Jersey, and the hilly roads of Pennsylvania on Interstate 80 west. A large percentage of the road trip was going through Pennsylvania, than Ohio and finally to Detroit. As I traveled, I passed road signs that I had just left Pennsylvania and several hours later I reached the signed that said welcome to Michigan.
I stopped at rest stops along the way, however, I traveled the entire trip by myself listening to my road music such as Norman Brown, The Pat Metheny Group, and Najee. When I found myself wondering how much longer before I would get to my destination, I would see a sign which let me know how many more miles I had to go before I reached the city of Detroit. As I reflected on my first road trip to Detroit in my Toyota Camry, it also made me think about the journey I had this year in 2017. When we travel long distance on the road, I believe there are three life lessons that the Lord would have us apply in our lives. The first life lesson that the Lord would have us to apply in our lives is the lesson of enjoying the journey on our way to our destination. The second life lesson that the Lord would have us to apply to our lives is the lesson is to pay attention to the signs that come before us. The final life lesson that the Lord would have us to apply in our lives when traveling the road of life, though the journey may be difficult at times better days are just ahead for us.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand (Psalms 37:23-24).
Enjoying the journey
The first life lesson that the Lord would have us apply in our lives is the lesson of enjoying the journey on our way to our destination. Throughout this year we have seen many tragic things happen in this country. We have witness hurricanes devastate region leaving people without their personal belonging, no food or power. We have also seen the most devastating wildfire in years on the west coast which has burned land, homes, and wildlife in its path. We have seen our country become more racially divided since the times of segregation because of unarmed men being killed by police brutality. We saw the news reports of white supremacy groups rallying in the state of Virginia which led to people being hurt and killed when they were hit by a car driven by a person who supported the white supremacy. However, despite all of these terrible things that happen this year, there were many blessings from the Lord that He provided for us and our families that we must not lose sight of. The blessings that He woke you up each morning and He allowed you to enjoy the journey while you work through the process in your life.
To enjoy the journey in your life means to appreciate those moments when you are with your family eating together, sharing memories or making one another laugh at silly jokes. That does not mean that the bills are all paid or the boiler in the home has not run out of oil during a cold winter night. To enjoy the journey in your life does not mean you have the perfect dream job and all your entire working career you have never been overlooked for career promotion with your company. However, to enjoy the journey in your life through 2017 means that you are grateful to the Lord how He has kept you all throughout the year. When the company was laying people off and forcing them into early retirement, the Lord kept you from being one of the ones lost their job. To enjoy the journey means you are growing in your relationship with the Lord and you are pressing to become a better son to Him. In Philippians 1:6 the word of God says “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.
Pay attention to the signs ahead
The second life lesson that the Lord would have us apply in our lives is the lesson that we pay attention to the signs that come before us. When we travel on the road there are many different signs that we see on the expressway. There is the very big sign which hangs on the overpass which lists the three local destinations ahead. There is the sign on the side of the expressway which helps the driver to know what interstate he is driving on. However, if the driver is not paying attention to these signs which he has passed the result of his negligence could cause him to miss his exit. His failure to look at the signs before him could cause him to go in the wrong direction and pay money for being on a turnpike he should not be on. The same way these signs help a driver to know where he is going, all throughout 2017 the Lord has been showing us as men the signs we should be paying attention too.
In Colossians 4:2, the Apostle Paul told the “saints and faithful brethren at Colosse” that they should “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”. Likewise in 2017, the Lord has been telling us as men to pray but to also pay attention to the signs that are before us. Yes, we have seen earthquakes, famines, and fearful sights in this year, however, we must not forget that “our redemption is still drawing near” (Luke 24:11 & 28). Despite these great signs that the word of God speaks about in the last days, we must continue to follow the prompting of the Spirit of God as He guides our lives according to His will. In Psalms 119:105 the word of the Lord says that the word is a “lamp to our feet and a light unto our path”. Having Christ in our lives helps us as men not to be confused about our identity and not be ignorant about our purpose in what God has called us to do.
Better Days Are Just Ahead
Finally, the third lesson that I believe the Lord would have us apply in our lives from living in 2017 is when the journey becomes difficult there are better days are just ahead for us. On one of my road trips from Detroit back to New York, I stopped at of rest stop outside of Michigan to eat some breakfast. I had just got off of Interstate 75 and turned on to interstate 90 which would ultimately become interstate 80 east. What stuck out to me about this part of my trip was there was a crossroad before turning onto interstate 90 which would allow a driver to either go east or turn west. As I sat in Burger King eating my breakfast at the rest stop, I heard myself complaining to the Lord how discouraged I was about my life. I told the Lord that I felt going back to New York was a dead-end for me and that I really needed to go in a different direction. Like the crossroad intersection that I had just passed going onto Interstate 90, my life was at a crossroad and there was nothing else there for me in New York.
After I had finished complaining to the Lord about how discouraged I was with my life, I heard the Lord asked me the question do you wish to please me? At first, I did not know how to respond to His question so the Lord then brought to my remembrance Psalms 37:23. The Lord in my conversation with Him went onto reveal to me that it was Him that was ordering my steps and not me. As long as I continued to allow Him to order my steps, He would be pleased with the direction that my life was headed. However, if I made the decision to stop trusting Him with my life and chose to go in a different direction at the crossroad of my life, He would not be pleased. I received a wave of encouragement from His word coming alive in me that better days were just ahead for my life. Your life my brother may also be at a crossroad and you are contemplating trusting in your own self and not the Lord. Though you may be discouraged about what happened to you in 2017, I am here to declare to you that better days are just ahead for you in 2018. The Lord wants you to enjoy the journey with Him by faith and pay attention to what He is showing you in His word and through prayer. The Lord is saying to you my brother in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”.