This afternoon I enjoyed an outstanding Christmas presentation at a church about fifteen minutes from our home. The church was completely packed out, as was the parking lot, making for a congested exit. I had parked along the side of the road, facing the opposite direction of the way home.
Instead of turning around, I thought to myself, “How hard can it be to find a new way home?” And with that I sped away. I drove random back roads, eventually ending up at a road I vaguely recognized. But by that time my sense of direction was completely confused and I found myself in a small town I knew—albeit, the opposite direction of where I thought I was headed—and from there I could navigate myself back home.
Sometimes in life we do this very same thing. We know what we want to achieve or where we want to be, but our decisions don’t fall in line with that goal. Rather than being intentional—because of the effort it will require on our part—we wander aimlessly, hoping that our end goal will still be what we wish for it to be.
My trek around the countryside today had no major consequences. Granted, my fifteen minute drive took a bit over half and hour, but there was no harm done. However, at one particular crossroad, had I turned the opposite direction as I almost did, my wandering would have continued much longer than thirty minutes.
In life the consequences are often much higher. That decision to not be intentional, while we wander aimlessly and hope for the best, can cost us relational success, business success, and, certainly in our spiritual life it costs us. Without that intentional nurturing of our spirit, we lack the stability of having something solid to fall back on when life gets tough, and Someone to thank when life is good.
Like those country roads, there are always crossroads where we have to choose again our direction. At one particular crossroad today, I sat for a time, assessing my situation. I really had no idea which way to turn, or whether I should go straight through. Based on where I had come from, where I was planning to go and the direction I had already traveled, I made the turn that led me back to familiar territory.
The reality is, if we have spent time wandering in any area of our lives, it’s never too late to stop, assess the situation, and start in a new direction. And, like my wrong turn at the first familiar road, we might not get it right the first time. However, with persistence and intentionality, we will make progress and, with time we are likely to achieve our goals.
The secret is to learn from our mistakes, stay focused on what really matters and pause to reflect, when we arrive at the various crossroads in life, so that we make wise decisions. If we do this, in spite of mistakes, all roads do eventually lead home. Choosing the wrong path will always cost us something but nothing is beyond redemption. The sooner we become intentional, the less backtracking we wil need to do, and the better off we will be.