I was looking for the house of a person I was going to visit and desperately trying hard to remember the directions that they had given me. I stared at the phone on the seat beside me and wrestled with the option of calling them.
If I called to again receive directions would it appear as if I did not really pay attention in the first place? Would it be rude? I thought I knew how to get there and yet here I was looking at a road that just came to a stop. There was literally nothing left. There was even a sign that read in big bold letters, "Pavement Ends".
What was it they said? "Once you take exit three, drive until you reach the end of the road."
Ever been there? On your way along the road of your life just enjoying the trip and then suddenly you reach the end of the familiar. The pavement just suddenly stops and you slow the "car" to a crawl while you debate on going further?
The truth is that every one of us has had times in our life when the familiar and the comfortable came to a screeching halt and in some way shape or form we came to the conclusion that as of this point, THE PAVEMENT HAS ENDED!
The first time I came to a pavement end was while serving as a youth pastor for a church in Illinois. I was working at a trucking company during the week and donning the cape of youth pastor man on the weekends. I loved it, because I loved the teens that I had been privileged to serve. At work however I was confronted with a group that I did not feel privileged to serve. I was given the responsibility of teaching people who were set in their ways how to change those ways.
Do you remember what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks? Well it appeared that this phrase was applicable to forklift drivers at trucking companies too.
I was frustrated beyond words and struggling to fix what had been broken in my work area when she came walking back to where I was. Her name was Charlotte and God sent her into my life to introduce me to this sign:
Charlotte informed me that the Lord wanted her to ask me if I knew why God would put me in a place where I was struggling to teach people something that they did not want to learn.
I told her to take a hike.
I seriously did.
She left my work area but she would pass by daily and continue to ask the same thing. "Who was this woman?" I wondered, "and why was God talking to her and not to me?" After all, I was the youth pastor here. You would think I would get the message first.
The pavement of my comfortability had officially ended and up ahead was new territory. What Charlotte did not know was that my experiences as a damage coordinator for a trucking company directly mirrored my experiences as a Youth Pastor. I was frustrated with some of the teens because they were just not "getting" the Christian life thing. I tried to DO everything I could to help them, and yet they still acted like dock workers in the spiritual sense.
One day I was in the height of a frustration storm when charlotte passed by with her familiar question. Instead of the brush off I sighed out of exasperation, "What is God trying to tell me Charlotte?"
She looked up at me and said without missing a beat. "Dan, He's trying to tell you that you will never be able to DO anything to make a teenager that He has trusted to you do what is right no more than you can make a dockworker do the right thing. You must simply BE what is right and Be there to help them when they are ready to BE what they were made to BE and Do what they were made to DO. He is letting you learn this lesson on boxes of soap that don't matter instead of damaging lives that do matter to learn this lesson."
God used that lady in a warehouse to begin to teach me how to listen for the voice of God. A voice that had begun broadcasting across the airwaves of my Spirit the day I was born and a voice whose frequency I had never dialed in.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6
I memorized this verse in Sunday School to get a pack of fruity certs and completely missed what it was saying. God used a little lady named Charlotte to teach me what it meant.
Trust in the Lord (Hang every thing on Him like you would hang your coat on a coatrack") and lean not unto thine own understanding (Be ready always leave what is familiar for what is TRUTH) In all thy ways ( The things I do, the places I go, and the people I meet) Acknowledge (Search for or discover) Him (God) and HE (God) shall direct thy paths!
God lives where the pavement ends!
He delights in taking us beyond what is familiar to us. There have been so many moments since that day in the warehouse where I came to a stop on the familiar road I was on and found myself looking up at a sign that informed me that the pavement had officially ended.
The unknown scares us each and every time doesn't it?
We have seen God part red seas for us, and yet we are fearful of the Jordan rivers. We have seen God direct in the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke but we have such trouble with the simple encounter of a person on the street that asks us to spare a dime. Unknown and unfamiliar cause so many of us to stop on the path.
This sign is always followed with a "Fear Not" from God.
The Apostle Paul, who experienced more pavement ending times in life than anyone I have ever met or heard about, would put it this way;
"Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." ~2 Timothy 1:11-12
Did you catch it? Look again at the underscored portion.
Let me paraphrase it this way, "God put me on a road that was paved and defined and I have come to unpaved sections, but based on the road that He has guided me on up to this present point I am confident that He is able to lead me even on the unpaved roads ahead!"
Unpaved and unfamiliar roads in your life ahead all point to a God who is waiting to show you what He has in store for you!
Buckle up, and throw it into high gear because as they say here in the south, "You is fixin to see some stuff!"
Climbing with you,