Church parking lots seem to attract people who like to go against the grain—they enter through the exits and exit through the entrances. Signs clearly designating which is an entrance and which is an exit don’t seem to matter. The pastor’s pleas to follow the directional arrows don’t seem to matter. When a car entering through an exit ran into a bicyclist in our church parking lot, I thought for sure that would be enough to change people’s driving practices, but people continued to disregard the signs and go the wrong way.
My suggestion was to install “do not back up” spikes, the kind I’d seen at the exits of rental car lots. I thought that they would definitely keep people from going the wrong way.
As I made that suggestion, I realized I wished I had those spikes installed at different times in my life—times when I was heading in the wrong direction, when I was making a choice that would lead me away from God.
I have been blessed by good friends who felt free enough to warn me that I was heading in the wrong direction, but those warnings were often not enough to stop me—not in the way spikes would have. No, I would often continue along some dangerous path and end up in a disastrous situation.
Why couldn’t I have spikes to stop me? What a life-saver they would have been. Imagine all the pitfalls I could have avoided.
Advent is a time to look at the direction my life is taking, to check and see if I am on the right path, going in the right direction.
John the Baptist and Mary are two prominent figures of Advent, two people who had great clarity about what God was asking of them. Each one stepped up in an extraordinary way to answer God’s call.
One of the things I love about Advent is that it shines a light on how God calls each of us to a particular mission. God did not call John the Baptist to do Mary’s mission nor Mary to do John’s.
I can sometimes be tempted to look at the work of others, to compare myself and ask if I should be doing something else, someone else’s mission. My mission can seem to be less important or impactful than what others are doing. My insecurities nip at me all along the path, reminding me of my inadequacies and failures.
But God calls me to ignore those negative messages and listen for affirmation as a sign that I am on the right path.
God calls me to fulfill my particular mission and trust that it is just what God is asking of me. I only need to stay focused on God’s call and keep moving forward; I simply need to follow the lights along my path. If I can just do that, I don’t need spikes to keep me from going the wrong way.