Did you ever get the feeling you were headed in the wrong direction? I did recently when I pulled into one of those nice automatic car washes. You know the ones with rainbow colored soap that makes you feel like you are buried alive in a tie-dyed shirt. It’s like driving through a lawn sprinkler test facility.
At any rate, I pull into the wash, put my car in park and out of habit, I glance down at my iPhone. This is when the sensation begins. I see out of the corner of my eye some movement. Panic immediately grips me; the car is moving backwards, isn’t it? But how? So I instinctively slam on the brakes.
But wait - I wasn’t moving at all. It was just the sprayers moving down both sides of my car, gently pre-soaking its exterior. By the way, next time you are waiting in line at a car wash, just watch the brake lights flash on as the car wash begins for the car in front of you. It’s hilarious.
But my point - yes back to my point - have you ever experienced the feeling of moving in the wrong direction? Car washes aren’t the only place that feeling occurs.
It happens in careers all the time. You are cruising along your journey to the top rung of the corporate ladder, and one day you look around and you are no longer headed in the direction you had planned. Momentum has slowed so gradually that you didn’t even notice until it was too late. Panic takes over, and you respond, hopefully, with the right decision to correct the course.
The same sensation can be experienced in the arena of relationships. Through the course of time, lack of communication, misplaced priorities, and a once-thriving relationship can begin to slide in the wrong direction with devastating consequences. Just ask the couple who has grown apart and are filing for divorce. Ask the couple whose marriage has failed and, looking back, they realize they were so busy they can’t even remember when the shift in direction took place.
The brakes are applied, but often it is too late.
What about your relationship with the Lord? Have you ever sensed that you were growing farther away instead of closer to Him? Maybe it’s time to slam on the brakes and ponder with me the words of Jesus from Luke’s gospel: “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.”
Now what stands out to me as I listen to Jesus call on Levi’s life is the word “follow.” This particular word, according to Webster, is listed as a verb, which means in essence to go, or to proceed. It implies motion in a forward direction.
Now I know I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar, but I do believe I understand enough to know the difference between moving forward and going backward. And I also believe that Jesus intends for us to be moving in the forward direction as we follow Him.
Moving in the wrong direction can be bad - real bad, in fact. Such as the story of the failed escape attempt in Mexico. In November 1975, 75 convicts started digging a secret tunnel designed to bring them up at the other side of the wall of Saltillo Prison in northern Mexico. On April 18, 1976, guided by pure genius, they tunneled up into the nearby courtroom in which many of them had been sentenced. The surprised judges returned all 75 to jail.
Like I said, the direction you are moving matters. The truth of the matter is that you and I are headed spiritually in one direction or another. The sad fact is that many don’t realize they are going in the wrong direction until it is too late. The brakes are applied but the damage has been done. The enemy of our soul would have us oblivious to our direction until out of the corner of our eye we catch a glimpse we are not accustomed to and we panic. Let me encourage you today to look around and see which direction you are headed and respond accordingly.
I remember reading about former pro basketball star Bill Bradley sharing that at the age of 15 he attended a summer basketball camp that was run by Easy Ed Macauley, a former college and pro star.
“Just remember that if you’re not working at your game to the utmost of your ability,” Macauley told his assembled campers, “there will be someone out there somewhere with equal ability who will be working to the utmost of his ability. And one day you’ll play each other, and he’ll have the advantage.”
My little incident in the car wash was funny and uneventful to say the least, but sadly, many have applied the brakes only to find it was too late. Don’t wait to find out which way you are headed.