Have you ever realized while driving down the freeway that you were going the wrong way? That five miles to the next exit seems like thirty as your mind begins to calculate the time you are wasting. That little gravel path in the median that is reserved for “official use only” looks pretty inviting, doesn’t it? Sure, it’s illegal but your time is valuable too, right?
Some time ago, I was driving to a service in Northern California. I had tried to squeeze in a little too much work before leaving and was running a bit late but traffic was light, the weather was great, and I was keeping the cruise control on the speed limit as I made my way up Interstate 5. I was getting low on fuel, and since I had driven this route countless times before, I decided to stop at a Flying J truck stop. Unfortunately for me, they had reconfigured the exit ramp since my last visit to this establishment, and I found myself on a different road than I expected. But, praise the Lord, there happened to be a “Pilot” truck stop right there, so I pulled in and refueled both the car and my stash of snacks.
As I exited, I was a little confused as to how to get back to the freeway. As I approached a stop sign, I did not see any signs pointing me back to I-5, but I did spot the Flying J in the distance. I decided to turn towards the Flying J, thinking that if I could get to that familiar spot I would be able to make my way back to the interstate. As I drove by the Flying J, I realized that in order to get back on the highway, I needed to be going the other direction. So, at the next stop sign, I simply made a u-turn. A few seconds later, as I approached the entrance ramp—you guessed it! Those blue and red lights were flashing as my criminal act had been witnessed by two of our finest patrol officers. After a twenty-minute delay I was handed a ticket with a fine of $142! I haven’t made a u-turn since!
How many times in our Christian lives do we make u-turns from God’s will when He has clearly directed us against such an action? Solomon told his son: “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:25–27). God’s path for our lives is clearly marked in His Word and we dare not deviate from that route. U-turns are certain to bring expensive penalties.
The church at Ephesus had a good track record, but somewhere along the line they lost their focus. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4–5). Survey your Christian life for a moment. Are you going in the direction God has designed for your life? When you got saved old things passed away and all things became new. Have you gone back to the old things? Do you see where you made that u-turn? There is a heavy price to be paid for that decision.
Jesus said: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62b). Don’t go back to the place of sin from which God has saved you—don’t even look back! Your eye will affect your heart and the more you look in the wrong direction, the more certain you will be of making that costly u-turn.
Sometimes the road ahead may seem rough and uncertain, but remember the words of Hebrews 12:2–3: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
I am glad Jesus did not get to the cross and make a u-turn! And because He didn’t, we ought to echo the words of Paul: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).