My friend Mike met Leslie at a dinner party and was absolutely smitten. I mean “can’t-sleep-at-night-and-can’t-think-of-anyone-else” kind of gob smacked upside the head. He was obsessed with this attractive young lady and wanted to win her heart.
He knew he’d have to do something special to stand out in the crowd. So, in an effort to impress her, he planned a very special “first official” date. He was able to get her to agree to a date. And when she asked about the details of his plan, he simply responded, “Do you trust me?”
She stammered a bit, wondering what in the world he meant, and in what way he meant it! But then he pedantically repeated the question, “Do you trust me?” With some hesitation and somewhat reluctantly, eventually she said, “Sure.”
So Mike instructed her: “Go north on the 405 freeway.” That was it. Nothing more specific than that. He might as well have said, “Jump on the busiest freeway in North America and head for Alaska.” A bit incredulous and reluctant she responded, “Uhhh…OK. But then what? Where do I get off? Where am I going?”
He answered, “You said you trusted me. Just go north on the 405 freeway.”
[Now, just a note for those not familiar with LA traffic. Interstate 405 is certainly not an “inter-state” (it never leaves LA). And it’s rarely a “freeway” (“parking lot” is more apropos most of the time). It runs about 72 miles along the Southern California coast looping off of, and then reconnecting to, Interstate 5. That’s the primary west coast traffic artery that runs from Mexico to Canada.
The 405 trips its way from Orange County, along the South Bay Curve, through West Los Angeles and bisects the San Fernando Valley. It’s a primary feeder for LAX and connects to a dozen SoCal freeways. The Federal Highway Administration duly dubbed the 405 with the title of “busiest Interstate in any US city.”]
So, the instruction to “drive north on the 405” required no small act of blind faith, especially without so much as an address or even destination city. None the less, the idea intrigued Leslie and she dutifully trusted my friend Mike.
When the day came, Leslie ventured onto the torrential river of cars heading on the 405N. She drove curiously until she spotted a HUGE sign on an overpass which said, “Leslie: Exit Here.” Can you imagine? I just wonder if that’s when a smile crossed Leslie’s lips.
Well she obediently turned off the freeway, only to find the next massive instruction perfectly placed for the following turn. And then the next appeared, and the next until these series of signs led Leslie to his home.
She did trust him after all!
When I heard the story, my first thought was, “I wonder how many ‘Leslie’s’ show up at his house that night?!?!” Can you imagine if other “Leslies” were just as obedient?! He tells me only one girl named “Leslie” showed up. Most importantly, she was the right one.
Well decades of married life have passed for Mike and Leslie since that day. Now they’re on the cusp of giving away their daughter’s hand in marriage. (Chuck Swindoll used to say that giving your daughter away in marriage is like handing a Stradivarius over to a gorilla. I like that.) My congratulations to Mike and Leslie Kennedy!
Back to our story…
So on further thinking, my second thought after I heard the story was, “Wouldn’t it be great if all of life was like that?!”
Wouldn’t that be great? If God wanted us to take a certain job, a huge banner would wave over the building saying, “Take this job.” Or college applications would say, “Throw all the other applications away, you need to go here. You’ll be accepted.” Even better, “Mr. Right’s” forehead would be embossed with “This is the guy.” That interesting girl would have a hovering thought bubble saying, “She’s the one.” Life would be so much simpler!
And then I realized, actually, there are some pretty clear directions, some “banners,” God laid out for us in Scripture:
– “Follow me.”
– “Love others more than yourself.”
– “Don’t be conformed to this world.”
– “Present your body as a living sacrifice.”
– “Humble yourself under God’s hand.”
– “Abstain from sexual immorality.”
– “Give thanks always.”
When you think about it, there’s a huge array of Biblical billboards. They scream what we should do. The list seems endless, frankly. And they’re not unclear! Jesus Himself painted may of those banners throughout his many instructions to the disciples.
You see, our problem isn’t having enough direction, it’s responding to the signs already in front of us. It’s not the rule we need, it’s the obedience to follow the sign. The Bible says, “Jim, Exit Here.” but I tend to want to drive my own route.
I love the illustration Michael Josephson often quoted: “Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two decide to fly south. How many are left? Most people would say three. But actually, all five are left. You see, deciding to fly isn’t the same as doing it.”
Deciding to exit the freeway isn’t the same as actually navigating the off ramp. The decision to be obedient isn’t the same as being obedient. Wanting to follow Jesus is a whole different matter than actually do so. Seeing the sign means very little if you don’t make the turn. Reading Biblical imperatives is another matter compared to doing so.
It’s not complicated. It’s really rather simple, but often is a hard thing to do. Following Jesus requires obediently trusting the signs he’s put in place for us. If we never looked for another banner than those He hung for us in Scripture, we’d end up at the right destination.
I agree with Charles Morris of Haven Today . . . it’s ALL about Jesus!
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