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The Freedom to Drive

Good morning. It is Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.


It was 15,666 days ago. Jimmy Carter was president. The annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans was cancelled due to a strike called by the New Orleans Police Department. Rise Again by Dallas Holm was the #1 song on the Top Christian Hits (or soon would be). And I got my driver’s license. It was February 27, 1979.


I could not wait to get my driver’s license!


The anticipation of the freedom it would afford me was like an ever-present carrot dangling just out of reach. I got my permit at 15 and counted down the days to my 16th birthday.


And so it was, on a Tuesday in late February there I was, taking my test and I passed. By that night I was exploring the streets of our little town in Milton Freewater in mom’s 4-door, Gold, Toyota Corolla. It mattered not that it had a tow bar attached to the front. I was free.


It wasn’t too long after that, I was pulling out of a gas station, and, realizing I had pulled out too far with a car coming, I immediately put it reverse and backed into a car behind me. I can remember how embarrassed I was. His name was Kim; he was cute and a bit stoic.


Speaking of gas, I was paying about .85 cents a gallon. Oh, the good ol’ days.


I know people who waited until they were 18 to get their driver’s license. I know people who have never had any interest to drive and have not gotten their license. There are people who have been driving for 70 years or more, and some who just today will be getting their license. But one thing is for certain, we are all on the road and we must all follow the rules of the road.


There are one-way streets, stop lights and signs. The very way the road is painted tells a driver important information such as do not pass, lane ending sooner, even the color of the stripes on the road tell us if we are travelling on a one-way road or not. The best way to learn all the rules of the road, all the signs and warnings, is to read the Driver’s Manual.


Do you remember how exciting it was to get your first Driver’s Manual? I do, and I read and re-read that book. I wanted to be ready for that test.


We may all be travelling on the road, but we are at different spots along our journey.


In early December I took a trip with my son and granddaughters to California. The traffic! My goodness. 7 and 8 lanes of cars, going 10 miles an hour, bumper to bumper for as far as the eye can see: coming and going. Nighttime traffic is a bit of a pretty sight if you can see it from an elevated position. Red lights moving away from you, white lights coming at you, almost like a colorful snake. Thousands of cars all on the road headed to their own destination. And then you come home to Southern Oregon where most of the time you have two lanes moving in each direction and depending on the time of day, very little traffic and certainly not bumper to bumper.


It reminds me of where people are on the road to heaven. You know the Bible tells us that the road to heaven is very narrow. Extremely small.


“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14 ESV


That is a sobering thought. The way that leads to eternal life is hard and few find it?


Luke 13:23-25 speaks of it as well. “Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you…” NKJV


Verse 28 goes on to say there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. What a horrifying time that will be. But why does Christ say, “I do not know you?” Because they did not do the will of the Father.


Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” NKJV


It seems like only yesterday I could hear God telling me “You cannot seek comfort or help from the world AND from Me. You cannot have it both ways. Choose.”


God gives us the gift of choice. We cannot love the world and be a friend of God.


“…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4 NKJV


If we choose to live in the world, we choose sin. And if we choose sin, we deny Christ and His power.


“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:8-10 NKJV


Yes, the way is narrow, but we can do it, with Christ as our strength, we can do it!


A woman had a dream. “In the dream she was traveling with a large group of people. Some of the people had their wagons loaded with all their things. The road they were traveling on was steep, and on one side was a big drop-off and on the other side was a high white wall.


The road got narrower and narrower so they had to leave their wagons because there was not room enough for them. Some of the people tied their luggage on the horses and rode the horses.


The path kept getting more narrow, so the people were all crowded near the wall. When their luggage hit it they would sway toward the edge. They were afraid they would fall off the edge, so they cut the luggage from the horses and it fell off the side. When the road became so narrow that they were afraid they would lose their balance, they got off the horses. Finally they left their horses behind and followed each other, walking in each other's footsteps. Just then small white ropes came down the wall and they grabbed them to keep their balance. The ropes moved as they moved. Finally the path became so narrow that they had to take off their shoes and stockings. Even then it was difficult to stay on the narrow and dangerous path.


Many people who were not used to such hard traveling had already stopped climbing. But the people who were used to things being hard kept traveling and wanted to reach the end of the road.


Because the road became so narrow they could not walk on it they had to hold on tight to the ropes saying “We have to hold on from above! We have to hold on from above!” Each person said these words to the next person on the path.


Suddenly the people on the path heard all kinds of noises from below the cliff. They heard naughty words, bad music, loud laughing and also loud crying. The people holding on to the ropes on the wall were more determined than ever to keep going up the narrow path.


The ropes got bigger and stronger...the white wall had blood on it. It made her sad to see the beautiful wall stained with blood. Then she realized that when people came up the path and saw the stains they would know that others had been there before them, and even though they suffered a lot of pain they had kept on going up the path. This would encourage them to keep on going, too.


Now the people came to a big cliff below them and the path ended. There wasn’t anywhere to put their feet. They must trust the ropes, which had become very thick. Some of the people wondered where the ropes came from and what was holding them.


Then in her dream she looked across to the other side from the cliff and saw a beautiful field of green grass about six inches high. She could not see the sun, but bright beams of light like fine gold and silver rested on the field. It was more beautiful than anything she had ever seen on earth. But would they reach the field? What if the ropes broke?


Again the people whispered the words “What holds the ropes?” Then someone said, “Our only hope is to trust in Jesus. The ropes have held us safely all this way; they will still hold us.”


While they were waiting they heard the words, “God holds the ropes. We need not fear.” Then Ellen’s husband James White swung himself over the cliff and landed in the beautiful field. Ellen then took the rope and swung across. Then the rest of the people did the same. They felt so relieved and happy and thankful. They then sang a beautiful song to God.” (Source: whiteestate.org)


I have told myself many times, it is critical that I learn how to bear hardships and heartbreak now. Every trial I endure, every hardship and disappointment I come through is strengthening me for a time in the future when I will have nothing but my faith to see me through. If our faith muscle is weak, we may fall off that straight and narrow road.


Just like that driver’s manual, the best way to learn all the signs and warnings, is to read the Bible. Read it as if your life depends on it, because it does.


“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NKJV

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