The temperature had dropped, and high winds and blowing, wet snow slapped my windshield. The road was slick, and the setting sun and ice covered blades made the drive home a treacherous feat. I gripped the steering wheel and settled in for a long, slow ride. Every now and then, gazing down at the asphalt ahead of me, I could see faint traces of those dashed lines that helped me readjust my positioning and carefully ease back into my lane.
A few miles from my exit, traffic began to slow from a crawl to a stop. I was concerned because I had already experienced the worrisome spinning my tires had done when attempting to get moving again after a standstill. I allowed my foot to hover over the break to keep moving, even if only a little. I had driven this way home from work nearly every day for seven years, so when I perceived the entirety of southbound commuters begin to bottleneck uncharacteristically to the right, I started to earnestly and alternately peer ahead to ascertain what was happening and down at the road for glimpses of those comforting dashed lines.
I realized that all the cars drifted simply because the ones in front of them had. I, too, was drifting, until what I knew to be so became clearer to me than the reality of what was happening in traffic.
This time of year is supposed to be one of joy and cheer, but many of us find ourselves drifting away from what really matters. Even slogans like “Don’t miss the reason for the season,” and “Remember the ‘Christ’ in Christmas,” fail to make more than a superficial impact even on those who claim to follow Jesus. Winter storm aside, some of us had no intention of heading to church on Sunday morning, allowing ourselves to be consumed with gift giving and relaxing in front of a television. We spent more time and money on shopping than we have on “storing up treasure in heaven.” This is not merely an indictment, Friend. It’s also a confession. But what good is confession if repentance doesn’t come. What good is amen-ing a sentiment in recognition of its truth if change doesn’t follow.
I think about Joseph, the earthly man God chose to raise His Son. There are three ways the Gospel of Matthew characterizes Joseph in the first chapter: [Mary’s] husband (verse 19), son of David (verse 20), and a righteous man (verse 19). Mary had already been visited by the angel Gabriel and acknowledged her allegiance to God and His plan for her (Luke 1: 26-38), but Joseph was caught off guard by Mary’s pregnancy. Surely, he was distressed. Surely, circumstances consumed his thinking. But he was a righteous man who had chosen within himself to not bring harm and humiliation to Mary by quietly divorcing her. Joseph could have chosen any number of options after dreaming of the angel speaking to him about his situation with Mary, but Joseph chose to get back in alignment with the will of God. Scripture reports that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Matthew 1: 24, NASB).
Circumstances, Friend, can cloud our judgment, causing us to become hyper focused on only one aspect of reality. The screaming baby in the crib can make us forget the pot boiling over on the stove. The angsty, teenaged blowup, deadlines at work, finals week at school, holiday shopping needs, and a barreling winter storm in need of someone to brave subzero temperatures to clear pathways can camouflage a family in desperate need of quality time together. Whatever your individual circumstances, this is not the time to take your eye off the road, Friend. This is not the time to just “go along to get along.” When life is getting tougher and tougher by the minute, slow down, keep your feet prepared to make a move, and look for the signs that God always provides for His children. And whenever you find yourself drifting, moving out of alignment with the will of God, get back in your lane. Remember our true home is our destination.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 14, NASB)