|It was midnight on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge when my 11-year-old Volvo died and stopped—right in the middle lane. I could see my beautiful wife and 9-month-old daughter at my side—but nothing else. The fog was so thick we could barely make out other cars, much less the bridge or the bay.
Suddenly, out of nowhere a booming voice spoke to us, “PUT YOUR VEHICLE IN NEUTRAL.” I looked up, thinking I was getting a heavenly revelation. Coming to my senses, I then glanced in my rear-view mirror, only to see a giant truck with tires attached to its front bumpers about to start pushing us. Its job was to keep the bridge clear of any obstructions, and it propelled us forward (stopping to allow me to pay the toll, of course) with increasing speed.
Off the bridge, I had no idea where the driver was directing us. “VEER RIGHT!” the voice bellowed again. I could see he was pushing us onto an exit ramp and up a narrow, winding and deserted road with a drop off that’s (presently) giving me sweaty palms as I write about it. After about 300 yards, he stopped, turned around and disappeared back into the fog.
So, there we were — all alone — past midnight on a pitch-black moonless night without as much as a flashlight or matches to help us find the problem with our lifeless car.
“Oh, God,” I prayed silently, trying not to alarm my wife or wake our sleeping baby, “I need Your help right now!” I felt like I was exposing my family to one of the most lonely, isolated and dangerous places on the planet. Why? Because I had taken the wrong exit ramp. Why did I not service my car before we left? I thought. Why did I allow that guy to push us all the way out here into never-never land? How in the world can we get back to the main road — and to safety? I wondered.
How about you? Have you ever taken a wrong exit ramp in your life? Whether it was of your own doing, or you allowed someone — or something — to do the pushing, have you found yourself out of God’s will, wandering around in the wilderness, coming face to face with temptations and trials you never thought would come your way?
Welcome to the real world.
Getting on and staying on God’s road is one of the greatest challenges we face as followers of Jesus Christ. Allowing Satan, the world, or our own flesh to get us off track might just be a temporary detour, but it could mean total destruction! Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
The enemy’s goal is not just to distract or disrupt you, but to DEVOUR you! I’m not trying to frighten you (too much), but if you take one of the four exit ramps I’ll describe, you could end up being the main course at one of Satan’s late-night dinner parties.
Exit Ramp No. 1: Fear
In his excellent book, When Fear Seems Overwhelming, Dr. Larry Crabb notes that we live our lives based on fear. We do the things that are safe and comfortable for us, and we avoid (or run from) things that frighten or intimidate us. I once thought courage was the absence of fear. Not so. In fact, someone interviewed congressional medal of honor winners and asked them what their definition of courage was. All of them, in one form or another, said that courage isn’t the absence of fear — it’s doing what you’re afraid to do.
Whether it’s facing the Nazis at Normandy or trusting God with your future, you must walk toward your fears. It’s easy to say and hard to do, but letting the fear of what others think of you, the fear of the lordship of Christ, or the fear of earthly dangers control you can be an exit ramp you don’t want to take. Paul challenged Timothy, his young disciple, saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
If God has given us everything we need for victory, why are we still relying on our own puny little resources? The real issue is not how to escape our fears, but how to handle them. And you can — if you stay on God’s road with your eyes fixed on Him.
Join us next week for Part 2 - Exit Ramps 2 - 4.