Unheeded WarningsBy: Tricia Lovejoy
Warnings. They're everywhere. Caution labels, friendly advice and blinking signs all advise us to protect ourselves from unpleasant consequences. We don't always listen though, do we?
Recently my husband, Shawn, and I took a trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and on our way home we hit a snag in traffic. That's putting it mildly. Some genius at the Alabama DOT decided to shut down I-59 for road work. (Note: I didn't say "close one lane." I said shut down all the east bound lanes.) Since we live here in Atlanta - the Mecca of all traffic - we were stunned. In the ATL, no one would be crazy enough to completely stop traffic on purpose. That only happens when a massive car wreck takes place or someone threatens to jump off a bridge. Even in those cases, travelers have the patience of a gnat. But to close the interstate and divert all traffic in the middle of the day? Simply unheard of!
To be fair, Shawn and I passed at least five blinking signs warning us of the impending detour, and we had several miles to prepare for the change. To be fairer still, the traffic was being rerouted to I-459, which bypasses the city of Birmingham. All in all, the detour would have only added about 15 minutes to our travel time.
Nevertheless, Shawn and I rebelled. We didn't exit I-59 and follow the detour. We banked on the fact that local traffic would still be allowed to pass. We even slightly chuckled at the poor saps who were following the rules and using the detour. "People often follow like cattle," Shawn likes to say. "Never follow the crowd. There's always another way."
Sometimes cattle are smarter than you'd think.
Sure enough, I-59 was closed. Completely. Eventually the remaining traffic (who, like us, thumbed their noses at the detour signs) was forced to exit to a two-lane highway. The speed limit was 45, although we never got above 20 mph. We were in a rough part of town, too - bars were on every window. Then, that familiar yellow light on the dashboard popped on. You guessed it: low gas.
That's when I looked at Shawn and said, "You know, this will make a great teaching illustration." (When you're in the ministry, sermon illustrations are everywhere.)
Let me explain. Although we were warned several times, we continued our own way. We thought we had a better plan. We thought we knew best....we could take a shortcut and be ok. Our decision cost us. We were hungry with no place to stop, no gas and had added an hour to our travel time. If we'd simply heeded the warnings, we could've stopped at any number of delicious restaurants along I-459 and been home already. Good grief.
God probably looks down on us at times and thinks, "Good grief." In spite of the warnings He gives us, we often continue to think we know best. We ignore the wisdom He offers and set out on our own course for life. Yet, when we choose our way over God's way, we always pay a price. Relationships suffer, consequences are costly and time is wasted. The abundant life that Jesus promises is never found past those blinking warning signs.
Take a lesson from my modern-day parable. Heed the warnings that God offers because life on the rough two-lane is not nearly as enjoyable. Life there is full of humbling consequences and painful limitations. Find freedom on God's open highway - with delightful choices and benefits.
God's way is always best. Listen to Him and revel in the good life.
Tricia Lovejoy is married to Shawn Lovejoy, author of "The Measure of Our Success" and Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church. She leads the women of her church in a monthly environment called Girlfriends and she mentors Pastors' wives across the country. Together, she and her husband lead out in ministry and life. They have 3 children. You can connect with Tricia at www.SharpenHer.com and www.MountainLake.tv.