Some would call me "directionally-challenged." While my husband, Jim, seems to know where he is at all times, I have difficulty following a map or someone's directions. I've been lost more often than I'd like to admit.
It happened again when I went to visit a new friend who lives in the country. She gave me specific instructions to her home. I scribbled them on a piece of paper: " ... You'll end up on a dirt road and will eventually see an old bridge. Take an immediate left—our house will be on the left."
About an hour later I was driving to my friend's and enjoying the country landscape: massive farms, hay bales, countless barking dogs. I spotted a beautiful old bridge and stopped to take the picture you see here. A recent winter storm had left some ice and snow on it, and some tree limbs partially covered the muddy road ahead.
I continued on until a tree blocked the way. Thinking I had driven too far, I tried to call my friend on my cell phone but was in a dead zone. All I saw was the feared message, "Call not allowed."
After turning around, once again I approached the beautiful old bridge. The phone rang. Yes, the same one that wouldn't work just minutes before.
"Where are you?" my friend asked.
I explained my dilemma.
"Oh, I can see you!" she said.
I was dumbfounded. "See me? Are you looking down from a ridge?"
"No, I'm looking from a window in my house."
That's when I realized that I had missed one little turn immediately after the old bridge. That one small oversight had made a big difference.
Country roads and marriage
As a writer for FamilyLife, I've interviewed a lot of people about how God moved in their marriages. From them I've realized how easy it is to miss an important turn in a marriage relationship. At times don't we all forget the simplest directions?
Here are four reminders for fellow travelers—those driving down unfamiliar country roads or whizzing on the highway of married life:
1. Overconfidence is not a good thing.
"Pride goes before destruction." Proverbs 16:18
As I left home to see my new friend, I had foolishly believed that my scribbled notes were totally right, that I could not possibly get lost. Being too confident is not a good thing.
I've seen this truth not only in my personal life, but also as I've written stories about changed lives. There seems to be a common thread in all of these stories—the thought that, This will never happen to me!
In the article, "The Lost Decade," Mike and Pam Calvert describe the first 13 years of their marriage as a dream come true. But things began to change after they befriended a couple from their church.
Mike began developing an inappropriate friendship with the wife. But when Pam told him the relationship wasn't right, he became angry, saying it was her problem. They began to grow more and more isolated, and less than two years later, the Calverts were divorced.
Watch out if you begin to think, I will never be unfaithful or, I could never do that to my spouse.
2. You will reap the consequences of your actions.
Thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences ..." Ezekiel 23:35
Scott Jennings never dreamed that he would cross the line and be unfaithful to Sherry. But somehow it happened. Scott turned to a woman at work for a listening ear, and that led to an inappropriate friendship and emotional attachment, which led to infidelity. The story of his shattered marriage is told in "He Lived a Double Life."
Consider the consequences of your actions, in the big and small decisions of life. Author Stephen Covey puts it this way: "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions."
3. God wants us to follow all of the directions that He gives for life (His Word).
"So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God." Numbers 15:40
When Hal Walker's 32-year-old wife woke up from a coma, she had no memory of her family. Many of Hal's friends suggested that he divorce Beth. In the article "She Didn't Know She Was Married," he describes his decision as simple: He knew God hated divorce, and he knew he didn't have biblical grounds to end the marriage. For more than 20 years he has stood by Beth rebuilding his marriage.
Regardless of where life takes us, God meant for everything in His Word to be followed. His directions matter.
4. It's never too late to turn around.
"God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around." Psalm 32:10 (The Message)
After 34 years of marriage, Lamar Sims told his wife, June, that he wanted a divorce: "I don't love you. I don't need you. I don't want you."
In the article "Her Husband Wouldn't Speak to Her for Three Years," June says that she still loved her husband and didn't want to end their marriage. Angered by her refusal to grant a divorce, Lamar stopped talking to her. So she continued living with Lamar—in silence—and waited for God to act. Three long years later, God answered her prayers.
It's never too late to turn around on a dirt road ... or in a dying marriage. Nothing is impossible for God.
Prone to wander
I know better than to vow that I won't get lost again. Like the old hymn says, I am "prone to wander."
But the next time that I lose my way, I want to remember that God really does see me. And He is ready and able to help (Psalm 46:1).
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