Two trucks, two boats, and one four runner all packed with the seven of us and two dogs. Not to mention the loads of stuff we’ve brought for the journey. We traveled north on four lane roads for most of the trip. But the final two hours of our journey included the winding up, down, round and round through the Ozarks.
Mile after mile we drove, and along the way were warning signs. Arrows pointed out the hard curves. Squiggly lines warned of squiggly roads ahead. One sign read, “Caution. Very sharp curve.”
As we passed another sign the thought came, “If this trip needs countless warnings, is it even safe to keep driving.” I quietly chuckled at the thought of stopping this caravan of loved ones and turning back. As if there was even a possibility this outdoor loving, game playing, fishing crew could be deterred at this point.
Today’s epiphany is simply this. Warnings are meant to help us continue along our way, to keep us on the road to where we are going. Yes, there will be detours. There will definitely be times to slow our pace and stay focused. But for me refusing to continue is not part of the equation.
The Wisemen didn’t turn around either. No matter what they faced on their journey to Bethlehem, they kept going. You’ll even find they heeded the warning of God and returned home another way. But it didn’t stop them in their tracks or deter them from continuing the journey to Jesus.
She asked the question as loved ones discussed the difficult roads, “Why are all the pretty places so hard to get to?” It’s a question I’ve asked myself a time or two when it comes to following Jesus. “Why is faith so difficult at times? Shouldn’t this journey to Jesus be easy going? Maybe I’ve taken a wrong turn or lost my way.”
Turns out there is a scripture warning that speaks to these questions.
And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.Luke 14:27-33
Counting the costs of following Jesus is all the warning sign needed to know this is not an easy going road. There will be twists and turns, ups and downs. Some days I’ll travel at warp speed and others will be at a snail’s pace. There will be detour moments and back tracking along the way, but the warning doesn’t keep me from going.
My sister-in-law spoke wisdom with her question because all the pretty places ARE hard to get to.
And the prettiest place of all just might be a stable that holds the manger where the newborn King sleeps.