Sense of Direction (Hebrews 3:12)

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

Last week I spent an interminable morning attempting to kill time while Penny attended a cheese-making class. There’s not much going on in Oologah, Oklahoma at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. When I wasn’t shopping the wonders of the largest convenience store in Oologah or reading in a McDonald’s in nearby Claremont, I did far too much driving around on country roads. Without a map, I risked life, limb, and well-being as I drove down county road 4060 and traveled along road 390.

Some people might have been worried about getting lost among those various twists and turns. I, on the other hand, have been granted an almost superhuman sense of direction, making it next to impossible for me to get lost. As I explored the various streets of Claremont, locating the post office and passing the gun museum (complete with a tank out front), I always knew which way to turn in order to head back toward the Will Rogers Memorial and, ultimately, my cheese-making bride.

To some degree, my odyssey in northeast Oklahoma resembles my spiritual reality. Just as I wound my way around corners in Claremont, I find myself aimed all sorts of directions when it comes to my attitude toward God. The big difference, however, is that I seem to turn away from God without ever realizing it. I’ll be headed in a spiritual north direction only to look up and find myself headed south-southeast or west-southwest. What’s up with that? I never do that in the car, but in following God it seems to happen constantly.

Happily, I always seem to know which way to turn in order to head back in the right direction. That’s good news, but I’m not sure if I wouldn’t feel more excused if I didn’t know. How can we as believers turn away from God so quickly, so often? We have the road atlas and the Holy Spirit’s GPS, yet still we find ourselves headed in the wrong direction. All I can suggest is that we keep our eyes on the road.

Rest Station Ahead (Hebrews 3:10-11)

That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” (Hebrews 3:10-11)

Have you ever been driving along a highway, having tanked up your bladder on some huge, convenience-store carbonated beverage, only to reach that moment when, if presented with the choice between a restroom and a sack full of money, you’d opt for the restroom? I have. In fact, this happened to me recently during a road trip to Tulsa. Until that gender-marked door closes behind you, there is no ease, no relaxation, no rest.

That’s where my peculiar mind goes when I think of the disobedient people of Israel wandering in the wilderness, unable to cross into the land of promise. Instead, they’re forced to hang out in tents, eating manna, and forever searching for a Johnny on the Spot.

I realize that this notion seems rather irreverent, but I think there’s something to be learned from this notion. When I pull in to QuikTrip at the outset of a long drive, there’s a little voice–I wouldn’t ascribe it to the Holy Spirit, but I could be wrong–that says “You’ll be sorry if you guzzle that stuff down.” After leaving Kansas City, I might make it as far as Columbia before finding myself in the just-pull-off-the-road zone. I’ll scurry in to yet another place–probably another QuikTrip–and, having dealt with my pressing need, will almost certainly refill my cup. What sort of idiocy is this?

I’m not sure that God cares greatly about the comfort of my bladder, but I am certain that he cares about my overall obedience. I know that my obedience leads to a sense of ease, a sense that, even when things are difficult, God is in control and attending to matters. It takes me into the Promised Land of God’s rest.

I know this truth. I’ve experienced it, yet just as I refill that cup, I also stray from the obedience that will keep me in God’s rest. You’d think I’d learn.