The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

I was driving home up the M11 at night and forgot about the roadworks. I’ve been caught by them a few times now. You’d think I’d learn! The diverted ways are either to the west via Cambridge or to the east past Stansted Airport and are not ‘fun’ with many narrow winding roads through what I imagine would be picturesque countryside in the sunshine. Of course, you just sigh and drive. This time, however, there were more roadworks so I faced a situation where my sat-nav had a red line ahead and a red line to the east and a red line to the west! The signs were saying road closed in three directions and literally the blue line had me permanently going round the round-about! I laughed and scoffed and laughed again – and sighed – it was going to be a long night home! (It was!)

You can’t stop on the roadway. You could go permanently round and round the round-about but why would you? So I made a decision – to head east this time and stay on the A120 until I reached the closure and then navigate my way north and staying on the ‘main’ roads as much as possible using my general sense of direction. The sat-nav was having a nervous breakdown and wanting me to turn back all the time! My heart sank almost immediately at the lines of cars on the other side of the road slowly creeping forward. The road closure must be near. I’d made the wrong choice! However for some reason the route I had imagined I’d try didn’t have any closures and so I drove on into the night … and eventually home.

Most of us – all of us? – would like life to go smoothly and if there are problems going forward then having a clear path to success is the ideal. Often people think of God ‘overhead’ and want him to simply tell them the best path! But being Christian doesn’t mean switching off your brain, sanctified common sense, or education. We are the ones who make the decisions, take the course of action (in my case turning right), and are responsible for them. Yes, God is with us on the journey and we have his promise that he will bring good from all things – even though not all things are good! 

What we do have is God’s Word – not that it addressed my roundabout decision – but it does address me and my life, my attitudes and my behaviour, and there is a story throughout it of God who loves and cares for me while I live the life I have been given. (Life is a gift; none of us make ourselves.) The relationship God establishes then affects me – how I see myself, how I feel, and how I behave. (Relationships govern behaviour.) The opposite can also be true that, for Christians, we can want to do something because we want to knowing that God either doesn’t want us to or probably doesn’t want us to and to make us feel better we then rationalise God’s Word with ‘loopholes’ to give us some comfort.

Living is all about going forward one day at a time. We make all sorts of decisions each day – most are small, sometimes one is huge and even life changing. But no matter the terrain Jesus’ empty tomb tells us that Jesus can walk with us through it all and the cross tells us that Jesus is always for us and not against us, so we can trust him after all!