I love maps. Sometimes when I am contemplating a trip somewhere, I will get a map out and start studying the area between where I am and where I want to go. First, I will look for the major highways, calculate the distance I need to travel, and then figure the time it should take me to travel it. Then I will start looking for interesting things that may be encountered off the beaten path. A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided to take a spontaneous road trip to Maine. I was very excited because I had always wanted to travel to the New England area and the added bonus was that it was October and we would be able to take in the beauty of the fall foliage along the way. Long before we packed the car and headed down the road, I was studying the map. This was a road trip, so I didn’t want to over plan, I just wanted to have a destination in mind, have a rough idea how to get there, pack our clothes and a cooler, and just let the rest happen. The whole time my husband was driving, I was navigating; atlas in one hand and google maps on my phone in the other. The maps were a comfort to me. Even though I was far from anything familiar, I was oriented. I was never lost. Oh I may have gotten us turned around a time or two. I may have headed us down a road I didn’t really mean to go down. We had to negotiate a detour here and there, but we were never without knowing where we were or our ultimate destination. And along the way, we got off the major highways and onto some pretty spectacular country roads with breathtaking views and country stores and we even stopped at a garage sale and found some New England “treasures”. It was definitely a trip we will always remember.
The thing about that trip in particular is that while we had Maine as our goal, the trip wasn’t just about Maine. It was about the road we traveled getting to Maine. It was like the road itself was a destination. It was the unexpected wonders we encountered on the road between here and there. It was the time we spent together in the car talking, musing about the sights we were seeing or the new food we were trying. Maine was just beautiful when we finally got there. What an awesome thing to finally experience the might of the Atlantic ocean from those rocky shores. But in reality, the bulk of the memories we treasure now are the ones that were made on the road between here and there.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
This was me before I knew Christ as my Savior. I was truly lost in this world. I had no direction. I had no map. The thing is I didn’t realize it at the time because I was so deceived and distracted, busy chasing cheap and empty things that in the end left me feeling discontented, discouraged and depressed. And ultimately, I was on a fast track towards a destination of eternal death.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesian 2:3
A road is meant to lead you from one place to another, but in a sense, the road itself is a place.
When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I started walking a much different road than the one I was on. It was itself a place of transformation and refinement.
In scripture, the Glory of God is most often represented as a fire. Fire does two things, and both of them transform the substance it which it comes into contact. The fire will either destroy it or it will refine and purify it. Sometimes it will simultaneously do both.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are inviting the Spirit of God to dwell within us. He takes up residence in our spirit and becomes one with us. It is very much like entering into a covenant relationship of marriage. We must understand that we are committing our heart, mind, body and soul to Him. He, in exchange, gives us His eternal, supernatural, holy life. He comes into us to “make us holy” unto Him. We now have the ability to know Him, to understand His word and to walk in His ways. We have entered the “Glory Road”.
The fire of the Glory of God comes into us through the Holy Spirit. It begins to burn away and refine things in our soul. It begins its transformative work within us to conform us into the likeness of Christ. This part of the sanctifying process and work of the Holy Spirit usually takes time, much like getting from one destination to another takes time. It is by way of the walking that changes us.
Sometimes this burning away isn’t very pleasant, in fact, it most of the time it downright hurts.
But no matter how painful the course, we must stay true to it. It is the only way it works. It is the only way beauty can come up from the ashes.
We may stumble and fall. We may take wrong turns and think we are lost. Sometimes the detours derail us. But as long as we have the Spirit of God and His Word as our guide, we can stay oriented! We can never truly be lost again. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it’s hard.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The work of God is performed in us by walking with Him. Enjoy the road, friends. Understand that the road is part of the salvation experience and in fact, prepares you to reach your heavenly home. May God bless you this day as you seek to follow Him and yeild your lives up to His refining Glory fires!