Thursday, August 4, 2011

Driving in the Ruts

A friend used the phrase "driving in the ruts" recently during a conversation. I, of course, have never heard it before so I asked him to elaborate. His elaboration goes a little something like this.
You're driving on a dirt road that's old and worn. The inclination is to stay in the existing ruts, the marks where all the other cars have been driving. It's hard, on most of those roads, to make your own path. You generally adapt to the one that's existing, because it's just easier. We do the same thing with our habits. We stick with what's familiar, even when we know better.
I've since thought about that analogy in my own life. I think we're all really like that. It's hard to break old habits. I think the hardest part about being a believer is just that--breaking away from the old ways to cling to the new and better ways. In a sense, we limit our own selves. Many times, we don't want to do the work to dig ourselves out of the mud. We get complacent.

I found myself in a hard spot yesterday. Without going into the specifics, let's just say I found myself driving in my own ruts. I reverted to the path I was on before and while I was driving in those muddy ruts, I couldn't really see Him like I did before. I prayed, I knew He was there but something was different. I felt like I was in a fog and couldn't see my way out. Things were thick in there. In all honesty, it didn't feel like I was in a foreign country, the scenery was familiar. I was quite clearly acquainted with this path because I've been here before.

As I reflect, I realize that I did some things that I've already learned not to do. I've thought and said things that frankly made me wonder if I've ever really learned anything. Going back to our roots, in my opinion, is so easy that it's scary. At I sometimes think we need a warning label on those old ways that read
"Keep out of reach of any living soul--especially the previous owner."
It's true, and we all know it. Our habits are hard to kill. They're like cockroaches, it takes persistence and something really strong to kill them off completely. The persistence is something we have to do, and the strong stuff--well that's God and His word.

It's a good thing we aren't expected to be perfect in this life. But it seems to me that the whole idea here is that we seek Him in order find the path meant for each of us. But we have to stay focused even once we get on it. If we'll stay on the path He takes us to, using His word as our road map and Him as our GPS, we CAN stay out of the ruts--with His help of course.

That just seems too easy, doesn't it? The problem is, we humans lose focus too easily. And we stop paying attention to the path we're on-- especially if it's still relatively new. It doesn't take us long to veer off the road. Driving the right path requires intent, persistence and focus. But it's not any different than any other relationship we have. We have to intentionally set out to do right by someone or we fall flat and the relationship suffers. In a sense it really is that easy, but this mess inside us won't go without a fight--so why not give it one?

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