Be Careful Where You Turn

By Marcy Barthelette

Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the way is good and walk in it and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

The year was 2010 and it was hot in Missouri that August, really hot! It was hot over most of the eastern half of the country. We hadn’t seen rain for several weeks. For some crazy reason, we had planned a three-week vacation encompassing the Shenandoah Mountains, some time in DC, a short stop at Gettysburg which became longer, a few days in Providence, Ken’s childhood home, and a tour of the remaining New England states except for Maine. Our overnight stops were mostly reserved in advance, and we had assembled a lengthy list of attractions to visit.

In the midst of all this, a grandson was playing baseball at the Cal Ripken Complex in Aberdeen, Maryland. We had one free day to make the two-hour drive from our DC hotel to Aberdeen. We rose early to hear rain beating against our windows, but the forecast gave some hope for clearing in Aberdeen, so we trekked up the unfamiliar highway, found our family, and sat in their hotel suite all day. And I do mean all day. The rain never stopped, all the games were postponed, and we headed back to DC by late afternoon after a nice visit with the kids but no baseball.

Travel down I 95 was pretty light so we would get back to our hotel before dark, a very good thing as we were not comfortable driving in the busy and unfamiliar city at night. We decided to exit the highway to refuel our car and our bodies at some point along the way, but as we drove down a road that we had thought would lead us to gas and food, we saw no signs or businesses. Before we knew it, we were approaching an armed gate and signage for a secure government facility. There was no turning around….we were in the soup, so to speak, as the gate opened slowly! And if we thought it was hot in Missouri, it was about to get a lot hotter somewhere in Maryland.

Once inside the gate, we were directed to move the car to the side and were approached by a large man in military uniform and armed with weapons. Ken tried to explain that we had made a wrong turn but that wasn’t cutting it. This soldier didn’t want to hear about our mistake, he wanted only to know our intention. Ken then shared his military service information, including his security clearance level, but that did not impress our intimidating guard. Frankly, I was terrified! I thought they were going to take us to jail and throw away the key. Ken was much more self-confident than I, but his bravado didn’t make any points in this situation.

Finally, after a half-hour or more of grilling, the “gentleman” soldier gave back Ken’s ID and sent us on our way with a stern warning not to return, as if we wanted a repeat performance. Upon re-entry to the interstate, we checked the exit signs and discovered that the one we wanted was very close to another which clearly stated, “NO ENTRY!” We were less observant than we should have been, and we paid a price for our carelessness.

Life often tempts us to follow paths that can be harmful. They’re often made appealing by promises of some amazing reward at the other

 end. After all, we thought we would find gas and food somewhere on our wandering path. We need to be cautious when choosing which path to follow. Do we take the easy, more traveled one that might lead us to make mistakes, or do we take the less traveled, yet tried and true path that will ultimately bring us face to face with God.

Like most of us, I’ve taken a few of those wrong turns and needed to be rescued. Truth be told, It will likely happen again. I’m certainly far from perfect. But I have His promise that if I come to Him with my failures, He will forgive. What have I ever done to deserve that? Absolutely nothing! Jesus did it all for me and for you over two thousand years ago and the promise has never changed. Take up His cross and follow Him. He’ll keep us on the right path if we can manage to keep out of our own way and let Him take the lead.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.


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