By Dr. Michael A. Halleen
“So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.” (1 Kings 13:10)
Deep in the pages of the Old Testament is a fascinating little story about an unnamed prophet who traveled to Israel in a period of great difficulty and delivered a strong message. He was a foreigner, and his harsh words were vexing to the cruel king. Being no fool, the prophet had a sense that danger awaited him on his journey home. “So,” we are told, “he took another road and did not return by the way he had come.”
Our subdivision is located near a major east-west artery, the only means of access to or from our house. Watching the busy traffic on that road prompts me occasionally to ask what other means of escape we might have in a time of crisis. What alternate routes are available to us? We can’t go more than one block before we must get on the highway that everyone else uses too. While there’s no immediate threat to our calm little neighborhood, still it’s discomfiting to think there’s only one exit.
A few weeks ago I drove from Raleigh, North Carolina into South Carolina. I could have used the interstate but chose instead to take old Highway 1. It was a slower but far more interesting route, and I enjoyed wending my way through smaller cities that I might otherwise never have seen: Apex, Sanford, Southern Pines, Rockingham. “Another road” provided a pleasant day of sightseeing on my journey.
Alternate routes are good for life’s journey too. My friend Bob, having been laid off in his mid-fifties from his accounting job, has decided this is an opportunity to take another road and pursue a lifelong dream of a career in music. I’ve had clients who would like to try something new but who, unlike Bob, are afraid to leave the highway on which they’re coasting along. They have stayed in cruise control for too long and let the lease expire on their motivation, technical know-how, ambition or curiosity. Inertia has taken over. They’re stuck on the familiar road and can no longer imagine any other.
The story of the foreign prophet does not end happily, for he changed his mind and returned to the common highway, and then — well, something about a lion and a tomb. When his crisis arose, this man chose familiarity over risk, abandoning his newly chosen road home. Find your alternatives. Check the map. Recalculate the GPS. Refresh the resume. Make the plan. And trust God to go with you.