A friend confessed he’d gotten lost recently. It was a nice day and he decided to walk to an appointment several kilometers away. To avoid busy streets he’d cut through a few neighbourhoods and should be there in twenty to thirty minutes.
He set off and twenty minutes later was surprised to discover he was back near his starting point. It hadn’t seemed like he was going in circles, but that must have been the case. Frustrated, he went home and got the car. The destination was much easier to reach when driving.
Later, this friend asked his wife to accompany him so they could figure out where he’d gone wrong. The route confused her, too. Then she saw a sign that would have pointed him in the right direction. “Did you see this sign?” she asked. “It would have helped you”. “I noticed there were signs but didn’t bother to read them,” he replied.
This was more than an amusing story. It was also an example of how easy it is to go astray when I don’t pay attention.
Signs to point me in the right direction are often all around me. The question is, do I pay attention or ignore them, assuming I know how best to reach my destination? Maybe the detours and stumbling blocks are there for a reason.
Even when I have confidence in where I’m going and how to get there sometimes the route is unfamiliar causing confusion. It’s easy to get disoriented and go in circles. The result is a lot of time and effort spent to get nowhere!
The only solution is to pay attention. This is easier said than done, but I have learned it’s the only way to keep on track.
While driving in an unfamiliar area we saw a sign that said, Rough Road No Turn Around. I have encountered phases in my life where this could apply.
Maybe it was because I either missed or chose to ignore an earlier warning sign; the one that said Wrong Way. In some cases I wasn’t paying attention but in others I felt it didn’t apply to me. After all, I knew where I was going and this was a short cut to get there.
Except, this route lead me to the rough road I then had to travel. Once I realized my mistake, I was too far in to turn around. No matter how rough it got, I had to keep going. My errors in judgement couldn’t be erased. They had now become part of my story.
All I could do was put one foot in front of the other as I trudged forward, hoping to find the smooth road once again. Since turning back wasn’t an option, the only thing left was to find some value in this uncomfortable area I found myself in.
When I pay attention, there are lessons to be learned. I now know to watch for the signs and to heed the advice they give.
During an eight-hour drive we noticed many signs telling us of upcoming towns. Under the name of each town were symbols representing what services could be found there. When we knew the local attractions it was easier to decide where to stop. There would be no use stopping for the night if no motels were there or for a meal if there were no restaurants.
Some small towns had few symbols under their name, others had many.
We discussed the fact that these signs could make the difference to someone stopping there or passing on by.
Relating this to our lives, we wondered what signs we exhibit that attract people to us. A cheerful attitude will draw people near. Being moody and temperamental will ensure they pass on by.
Jesus told us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. For me that means to be helpful, loving, respectful and encouraging. That’s what I appreciate in others. I want to be the kind of person I’d like to have for a friend.
When I serve the Lord in this way, his light shines through me. People are drawn to the evidence of him in my life. That’s the kind of attraction I strive for.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (Luke 6:31 NLT)
Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. (Romans 12:10-12 GWT)
Have you ever seen something that made you stop in your tracks and pay attention? It happened to me while wandering through a produce market. There, on a display of eggplants was a sign that made me laugh because I saw deeper meaning in it.
Eggplants are a vegetable I’ve never purchased. Their deep purple, glossy beauty has attracted me but being unsure of the taste; I’ve always passed them by. Judging by the sign with this vegetable I’d assume they are quite bland in flavor.
Even so, the advice on how to enhance its dull presence struck me as amusing.
Perhaps I could use a sign like that. On days I’m feeling dull and boring I could have a sign letting people know what they could do to enhance my personality. Chocolate always helps!
On the other hand, do I want to go around announcing that I’m feeling dull? Even a shiny exterior won’t attract people for long if the inside is dull.
The best personality enhancement I’ve found comes from a life lived for Jesus. When I start the day asking him to direct my life he brings unexpected delights. By actively seeking these gifts I allow the love and light of Jesus to shine through me. Bland is not an option when I walk closely with him.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)