There are three things I want you to keep in mind as you read this. First, despite evidence to the contrary, I actually have a pretty decent sense of direction. Second, this incident took place before the days of smart phones and GPS. And third, my story does have a point.
It all started when I was trying to get to a luncheon after Bible Study one day, at the home of a girl in my group that I barely even knew. This was, of course, just a few weeks after my husband and I had moved to Miami, when I didn't quite have my bearings yet. Nevertheless, being an adventurous soul, I set off from the church parking lot with a song in my heart, a crock pot full of taco meat securely wedged between my knees, and the girl's handwritten directions on my dashboard. I also had a city map in my glove box, but I didn't figure I'd need it. After all, I was headed for a Bible Study luncheon, and with the Lord on my side, how could I possibly go wrong?
I'll tell you exactly how I could (and did) go wrong. The girl's instructions said: "From the church, go north on Old Cutler Road. Turn left onto 136th Street and follow that until you cross the Dixie Highway. Go another four blocks and take a right onto my street.” Sounds easy enough, right? So that's what I did. But then…oops, I accidentally went past 136th Street. "No problem” I cheerfully told myself, "I'll just take the very next left.” And lo and behold, "the very next left” was literally just about thirty yards from where I was supposed to have turned! "Hot dog!” I yelled, "This is swell! I can follow this street all the way to the highway. After all, I'll only be one block off... ”
What I didn't know was that the street I had chosen didn't run parallel to 136th at all, but rocketed unsuspecting travelers off in a totally different direction altogether! Yes I managed to reach the Dixie Highway alright, but at the spot where I finally crossed it, I was closer to Duluth, Minnesota than I was to the girl's house. Unfortunately, by the time I figured this out, I had missed the luncheon altogether – which is a shame considering that I was the person from our Bible study group who was designated to bring the main ingredient for the Mexican Stacks.
To recap: I started out in exactly the right place. Then I missed my turn, so I deviated ever-so-slightly from the correct street – and that's where I really messed up. If I had turned around and immediately gotten right back on 136th, I'd have been okay. Or if I had just stopped to look at a map before taking the alternate route, I'd have seen how far off course it would take me. But I did neither of those things. Instead I assumed my way would be just as good – only it wasn't. In fact, the further I traveled on the wrong street, the further away from my target destination I got.
I don't know what got me started thinking about all of this today (unless I'm subconsciously hungry for tacos) but I do know that the same thing that happened on the way to the luncheon can happen in my walk with the Lord too. I may convince myself I'm only deviating from God's plan "just a teeny bit”, but the truth is that what started out as just a slight little diversion – whether it be a small bad habit, or a seemingly harmless pastime, or just a casual relationship with the wrong person – can actually set me off on a completely different course altogether, and the longer it takes me to correct my behavior, the further away from God's will I get.
The point I want to make is this: The next time you find yourself on an alternate route from the one God has mapped out for you – turn around! Otherwise you could end up in Duluth, Minnesota (and trust me, your taco meat is NOT going to make it that far.)
"Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27