I grew up surrounded by dirt roads. My memories are filled with hot summer days in bare feet covered in dust from head to toe. As children, we spent the bulk of our time playing outside and it wasn’t unusual at all to be smack dab in the middle of one of these old roads.
A road is a route between destinations. You leave one place behind in order to arrive at another. A road makes what would otherwise be an exhausting journey through the wilderness into something manageable.
Dirt roads are usually much narrower than paved roads, frequently only wide enough for one car. Brush is not cleared away from the shoulders, they’re full of ruts and holes, and there are few if any road signs to give you warnings about what lies ahead. In the dry months, every car that passes by leaves a cloud of dust which completely blocks your vision until the dust settles. When the rains come, the road turns to mud. Take your pick …….. mud or dust.
The end of the road is rarely visible; frequently it is obscured by turns and hills, or as in the picture above, by fog. If you’ve never traveled the road before, the only way you can have any knowledge about how to arrive safely at your destination is to trust what you’ve been told by someone who has traveled the road before you.
Isaiah 51:10-11 (NIV)
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Verse 10 is referencing Exodus 14:21 where God dried up the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape. He made a dry road in a place that was previously submerged in water. It is a picture of baptism. God made the road; God created the way for their salvation…….. through towering walls of water …….. not exactly a comforting image. But the Israelites had no option other than to trust God at his word; they either had to have faith and believe that he was leading them to safety or return to their slavery in Egypt. They chose to pass through the water; in faith they followed the road before them.
Our road to eternity is the same. It is a narrow, dusty old road with potential dangers on both sides. The end is difficult to see. But God made this road. It is his road and it can only be navigated by faith. He has given us everything we need in the words of those who came before us as written in the Holy Scriptures. He built the road with one purpose in mind – to rescue us, to redeem us, to provide a way from sadness and slavery into singing and joy!
The road is not purely a means of arriving at a destination; it is an experience. The travel from beginning to end is full of unforgettable events just like the story of the Israelites. Their baptism through the Red Sea was their initiation into their new life, but it continued with wandering through the wilderness for 40 years before finally entering the promised land.
Unlike the Israelites in the wilderness, we have a road; it may be dirt, but we have a clear path to follow.
Being a Christian has more to do with the journey of life than it does with arriving in our promised land. It’s a dusty old road full of ruts and potholes. You get covered with dust from head to toe, but that’s okay ……. it washes off. At times it may feel like the road isn’t clearly marked and you are unsure of what lies ahead; but around every insecure bend is something new and exciting to see. And we have a guide who is there to make sure we reach our final destination.
Whenever you have feelings of doubt, remember who carved out of the wilderness the road that you travel; he will guide you safely to the end. Mugs up!!