Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23
At the end of the summer, friends of ours invited us to their cottages on Lake Winnipesaukee, along with another family, for an overnight. Because my husband coaches my son’s baseball team, he drove in his own car so that he and Mason could leave early the next day to get back for their game. So I was in the mini-van with just the three kids and my GPS for the 80 mile trip north.
Unfortunately, my GPS was acting funky. It just had that red line of the highway I was traveling on, with the arrow moving as we progressed. It wasn’t displaying the usual screen that says how many miles until the exit or turn I needed to take. Not knowing the next move, or when I needed to take it, made me very uncomfortable. We were supposed to meet our friends at a certain time at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain to kick of the weekend with a nice hike. If I got lost, I’d be inconveniencing two other families who would be waiting on us as I floundered around on the New Hampshire back roads.
Consequently, I became anxious, following my husband’s car with a desperate need to keep him in my sight, relying on him to guide me and signal the next change. Despite trying to glue my mini-van to the bumper of his car, other vehicles managed to cut in between us, raising my anxiety level and heightening my attentiveness to his every move.
Around mile sixty, my GPS suddenly changed and reverted back to what I was used to: an overview of where I was, and the exact mileage to the next turn. Suddenly I didn’t care if I lost sight of my husband’s car or not. In fact, I was getting annoyed that he wasn’t going fast enough to meet our friends on time. I wanted to increase my speed and blow past him, blazing my own trail now that I knew where I was going.
Talk about a metaphor for my faith life! When times are tough, when I don’t know where I’m going, or what the next move should be, I get behind God, relying on Him 100%. I try so hard to not let anyone or anything come between us. I try to focus on the things of God, not the things of men. I do my best to keep Him in my sight at all times, relying on Him to guide me and signal the next change to keep me on the right path.
However, once things settle down, once I have (or think I have) a clear idea of where I’m headed and how to get there, I blow past God. I blaze my own trail, relying only on myself, thinking I’ve got it all covered.
In the verse before the scripture passage above, Peter is telling Jesus that he won’t allow His crucifixion. He loves Jesus too much to see Him suffer and die. Like Peter, I know how I want things to play out. I try to rewrite God’s plan to suit my own wants and needs, especially the parts that include pain and suffering, wanting to deny that even those parts are critical to God’s master plan for me. So off I go on my own.
Inevitably, I take a wrong turn, or lose my way. Then I’m back at God’s feet again, begging for direction, guidance and help. It seems that no matter how many times I fall into this trap, I still try to blaze my own path. Fortunately, no matter how many times I repeat this wrong pattern, God is always there, always willing to be my guide, and direct me again.
That day, at mile sixty, I guess I was open to God’s graciousness more than usual. Just as I was about to put more pressure on the accelerator to speed past my husband, I heard God whisper more guidance and direction on my heart. Suddenly I understood that meeting our friends on time was important, but the whole point of the trip was to journey together as a family. So I listened to that whisper and stayed behind my husband, following him all the way. Not only did we get there together, but, miracle upon miracle, for the first time ever, we were the first to arrive!
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