Reflections – November 2018
When we first moved to Connecticut, a dirt road and wooden plank bridge across the Scantic River provided us with a dandy little short-cut home. There were but a few homes along that road, yet it cut off several miles of driving. In time, the town considered improving the bridge and paving the road. Hurray! But immediately a loud outcry emanated from the residents along that road who preferred to retain their relative seclusion. The town dropped the plan, eventually closed the bridge, and bulldozed large piles of dirt at both sides of the approach. Of course that didn’t deter bikers and the noise they brought so, in time, the bridge was removed.
Road closures and detours are common, if annoying, occurrences in the lives of most of us who venture more than a few blocks from home. Signs alerting us to an impending closure are usually prominently displayed some time in advance so we can plan to adjust our routing. But in the case of long-distance travel, we seldom receive that notification; suddenly we happen upon it. Oops! Now what? GPS may save the day. Or we may resort to those old fashioned paper things called maps. In either case, we are probably in for an unwelcome additional add-on to our ETA. Life has a habit of offering us an abundance of unexpected, unwelcome challenges, doesn’t it? We face them, grumble perhaps for a bit, embrace the inevitable, and plot a course change. It becomes a momentary affliction, either soon forgotten or the making of a great story for friends.
But what about those relational road closures? The deep ones that really hurt? The ones we never saw coming? Or the ones we did see because they were a recurrent pattern but there was no reasonable recourse? Some things simply have to be endured — at least for a season. But at what cost? What are the choices when removing oneself is simply not an option? We can confront tactfully or lash out in anger. We can stuff our true feelings and put on a happy face. We can complain to a trusted confidant or the Lord. We can remain silent and allow resentment and bitterness to take up residence in us. All those options lead us into a sorry state of bondage. It’s a dead end, just like that dirt road without its former bridge. We absolutely cannot go forward.
Or, as followers of Christ, we can go the way of the cross. We can choose to forgive and move on with no expectation of acknowledgment, apology, restitution or change in behavior or the relational dynamics. Neither can we allow cynicism to trail along with us. It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Yet it is the only path to true freedom. It was only through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that our forgiveness and salvation were procured. Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? That was an excruciatingly difficult, painful time for Him. It won’t come easily for us either. In all probability we will really wrestle with it for a time before fully relinquishing it. But perseverance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom. 5:3). We see the evidence of Rom. 8:28 in our life (that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.) and others will see it too. We have a testimony of the power of God to change us; and if He can change us, He can likewise change others. It’s not the way of this world; it’s the way of the cross. Therein lies the Good News!