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Exit Ramp No. 2: Pride
As a cocky young freshman, I was walking along one day with an upperclassman who was attempting to help me spiritually. Impressed by how many students I was influencing for Christ, I subtly boasted, “Terry, I’m really struggling with pride.” He stopped, looked at me and shot back, “What do you have to be proud about?” Having my arrogance totally exposed, I stuttered and stammered, “I guess, nothing.”
I was focused on building up my little kingdom, building a name for myself, stealing glory from the only One who deserved it. “I am the Lord, that is My name. I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). Pride is usually evident to everyone except the person who manifests it! It raises its ugly head in the forms of defensiveness, prayerlessness, comparison and unteachability.
One question you can ask yourself: “Am I an able follower?” You’ll never be a great leader until you learn how to be a great follower. For instance, if you don’t have someone discipling you, it’s probably because you don’t wantsomeone discipling you! If so, decide now to turn in your “Loner for Christ” membership card, humble yourself before God, find someone who has been on God’s road for a while, and start to follow and learn from him or her. You’ll be glad you did!
Exit Ramp No. 3: Immorality
I believe that sexual sins leave the deepest scars in people’s lives. We can be forgiven for any sin, but, for some reason, it’s almost impossible to forget these “sins of the flesh;” they seem to be seared into our conscience for many years to come. Whether it’s premarital sexual involvement or the cheap substitutes we find on TV, in movies and in romance novels, we’re robbed of our purity, self esteem, and, worst of all, our fellowship with the Lord.
Second Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us that Satan uses all of his resources to influence and control our minds. The solution, Paul says, is to saturate ourselves with the Word, seeking to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” This is especially tough for guys because we are so stimulated by what we see. With the advent of the Internet, the enemy can now help a young student take this exit ramp with the mere touch of a computer key. Images will instantly appear that can be forever stored in the back of your brain’s hard drive, producing a spiritual virus with devastating long-term effects to your life and marriage.
As you traverse the road of life the Lord has you on, be careful what you look at, what you think about, and what you touch. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Stay true to Him, and you will get to experience it fully.
Exit Ramp No. 4: Bitterness
As I was graduating from college, I was burned big time by a landlord who chose to keep our security deposit, even though we kept her rental house in immaculate shape. Frustration turned into anger, anger into resentment, and resentment into deep-seated, deeply entrenched bitterness.
I had been wronged. The fury swelled inside of me and started to permeate every hour of my day, every conversation I had, every relationship in my world. The writer of Hebrews 12:15 described me when he said, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” I was not able to accept, nor extend, the grace of God. As a result, I was not only poisoning myself, but everyone around me as well.
Of the four exit ramps listed here, I believe this is the hardest one to come back from. This toxic “root of bitterness” can imbed itself so deep in our souls that it may seem that nothing can uproot it. It may not be a confiscated security deposit that rattles your cage, but when you get bitter over another person’s unfaithfulness, betrayal or slander the one it most destroys is staring back at you in the mirror. Take a long look and determine to extend the same grace to others the Lord so lavishly poured out upon you.
Oh, I almost forgot. Want to know the end of the Golden Gate/dead car/lonely exit story?
Desperate, I squinted hard and could see the parking lot lights of the maintenance building far away, next to the bridge at the bottom of the exit ramp. I pushed the Volvo around, put it in neutral, and, by faith, coasted all the way down (with no headlights or power steering), hoping I would not run into anyone or anything on the way.
Relieved to finally roll into the brightly lit parking lot, guess who drives up? None other than the truck driver with the booming voice and front bumper tires! He kindly got out, gave us a jump, and sent us on our way. Not such a bad guy, after all! I breathed a prayer of thanks, compliments of Willie Nelson:
On the road again.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again