Lauren E. Caldwell from Faith Fuel
"The Road is Closed"
At 4:45 this morning, I woke up to the sound of my dog, Harry, flipping his empty water bowl and clanging it down on the kitchen floor. 4:45am, in the wee hours of the morning, he decides he is thirsty. What a life this dog has. Whenever he has a need, he tells us. And we comply- regardless of what time it is.
I filled the bowl, hissed at him, "Now go back to sleep!" and went back to bed. When the alarm went off at 6am, my husband Bill got up, made coffee, and let the dog out. I awoke to the fragrant smell of fresh hot coffee. The day had begun. I came out to the kitchen, glared at the dog- but he paid no attention to me. He was sleeping on the couch.
That clanging sound in the middle of the night jarred me awake. I certainly wasn't expecting a literal wake up call. It just happened that Harry couldn't wait a moment longer for something to drink. And sometimes that's how life is. What happens, happens- regardless of whether we were ready for it or happy to see “it” arrive.
But there are other things that come into our lives because we go back and retrieve them. We decide to return to what we came out of. It can be an old way of comforting yourself, an old way of thinking, or an old way of coping. It’s so easy to return to the familiar.
I don’t like to make progress for a season only to give it all up in a moment of despair. I don’t want to return to an old habit or the old me who stubbornly resists taking the journey to wholeness. To avoid this, I have to remember that the old me is dead and gone- even if it desires to pop in again for a quick visit.
When that "old you" returns to the scene and wants to stir up trouble, you don’t have to comply. You do not have to serve the "old you" just because it makes a loud, sudden fuss and begs for your immediate attention.
Whether it’s an old habit of worrying, or the compulsion to drink again, or the temptation to return to an old relationship that never was good- these are all things that belong in the past. And they can simply stay there where they belong. You have ended contact with the junk of the past, remember? Do not open the door to these things.
Someone I love dearly is struggling with this. This person is dallying with the past. We have talked about this together. I shared how I myself know the dallying dance- because I've done it. I know how easily I can forget that " …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV).
On this new road there are new markers and signposts that will help you know the way to go. God's Word is full of counsel to help you know how to go forward. Confirming peace and clarity of thinking, the counsel of wise, godly friends, the accountability of a friend who knows you well and will not let you lie to yourself or her- these are some indicators to help you go the right way. The new road, the path of peace, has these clear markers to point the way.
"The new markers are there like a signpost to say 'The road you once traveled on has been permanently closed. Ahead is your new road and you must follow it until you come to the next marker' " Don Piper writes in his book, Heaven is Real.
While that road you once traveled on is permanently closed, it doesn’t mean you may not long for it, at times. The familiarity of the past is soothing, even if it is lethal. Even the way you once knew yourself, in the past, just feels better than looking into the mirror now and seeing someone who is "becoming" and growing. It's unsettling to be changing and having to get to know this new you.
I don't always know what I'm about to step into or what season of life I am in. I don’t always know if I am strong enough to face or enjoy what's next. But I do know that I want to go forward, onward, higher, and farther. And I can't do that if I'm trying to go back to the place where the sign says, "Road permanently closed". I don't want to stand there, weeping, looking at that sign while longing for the past.
I need to look at that sign of "Road closed" and with a sigh of relief, turn and go forward on the road that God has for me.
It's a road that however risky it seems, is safe for me to travel.
Lauren Caldwell is a Writer, Speaker, Wife, and Mother of two teenagers. She is a graduate of Proverbs 31 She Speaks training, and the Director of Women’s LIFE, a monthly workshop she teaches at her home church in Upstate NY. Visit her at Faith Fuel