The other day I was taking my usual walk when a car slowed. A sixtyish woman with perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable makeup rolled down her window and motioned for me to approach her vehicle. She seemed harmless though somewhat intimidating in my current state of sweats, pony-tailed hair and pale skin. I walked across the street to her mini-van anyway.
“I’m new to the area and all turned around,” she began.
Immediately I panicked. She didn’t have to go any further for me to know she was going to ask me directions. In my mind I was the worst possible person to ask because I had only lived here for a few months and knew the names of three streets. Instinctively I looked around to see if anyone was walking or driving by to assist this woman. Nada. Not a soul.
She continued, “The police officer told me to head up this road to …”
At this point I should explain why a police officer was involved. A portion of the main boulevard into our neighborhood was blocked off due to a house fire. I had just walked from there and I don’t think it was a huge fire. No smoke billowing or flames leaping through the roof, although I would suspect that to the home occupants it was a big fire. Anyway, there were twenty-four emergency vehicles (I counted them) dutifully taking up road space. Thus the police officer was diverting traffic off the boulevard onto my street to go around.
This lady was confused by the “go around” part. When she mentioned what street she was trying to get to, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be any help. It wasn’t one of the three street names I knew. I was about to tell her I didn’t think I could help, but thankfully she didn’t stop talking long enough for me to share this bit of information. Not waiting to inhale, she continued to tell me the officer had directed her to a L’Fennel Street or something like that and she just couldn’t find such a street.
I scratched my head. No, literally, I scratched my head. I was hoping it would knock some gray matter together and generate a useful answer. Besides it made me look contemplative. And, I might add, it worked! The street she was really looking for was L’Feil and this is one of the three street names I knew. I was able to direct her and she joyfully waved her thanks as she made a u-turn and drove out of sight.
That incident reminded me of another street I know. One I am way too familiar with and travel up and down way too often. I have plenty of opportunities to get off this street leading nowhere. But, I stay on this same old street dodging the same old pot holes, digging up the same old drudgery and making the same old excuses.
It’s called Failure Street. Maybe you’ve heard of it or have been on it a time or two in your life. Or maybe you’re like me and you find yourself hopelessly wondering up and down this street of futility more often than you would ever admit.
The problem is when we stay on Failure Street too long, we run out of gas with no where to fuel back up and eventually we have no energy left to even wonder through the street anymore. We are paralyzed between blocks and caught in the heavy stream of traffic aimlessly barreling up and down. Horns are blaring at us. Maybe even a few nasty words are hurled our way. But we can’t make sense of our surroundings let alone do anything about our situation
If you are on Failure Street right now and need directions to get off, allow me to assist. You see, I know the name of this street and, more importantly, I can give you directions to your next turn. I have been and are, traveling right along with you.
First it’s important for us to realize that it is inevitable that we find ourselves on this street from time to time. It’s just a part of life.We are going to fail. Worse yet, people are jsut waiting for us to fail. And even worse yet, some people are going to be glad we failed and even hope we fail again. Our problem is that we forget that the reason these people are watching us fail and applauding our failures is that they are on Failure Street themselves and they like having company.
We also forget that the most prominent resident of Failure Street is Satan himself and he certainly doesn’t want a decrease in his traffic reports. The more people he can keep on Failure, the more he can sit back and watch the bad times roll.
What we need to remember is that not everyone wants us to fail. In fact all of us have personal cheering sections encouraging us throughout our lives. And, as disciples of Jesus, we always have His applause reassuring us. We need to drown out the naysayers and focus on our boosters
Second, we must remember that though it is inevitable that we will have to travel onto Failure Street once in awhile, it is NOT inevitable that we stay on that road. It is our choice as to how long we continue to drive the strip of “Would’ve”, “Should’ve” and “Could’ve”. God provides numerous and continuous exits throughout Failure Street, but He will not force us to make any turn. We must flip on our blinker, put hand over hand on the steering wheel and then FLOOR IT!
Well, maybe you don’t feel like you can floor it, but don’t be too much of a slow poke making your turn off Failure or you will be pulled right back into the rush of traffic
Third, we must all remember that the correct turn for one person off Failure may not the the right one for someone else. Or that even the correct turn for one individual in one situation may not be the same turn in another situation for that same individual.
Take me for example. My most recent trip on Failure Street has lasted much too long, mainly because I was hanging onto what I call pseudo failures. These are failures that may or may not happen in the future and they are especially crippling. My next move is to “turn write”. I just need to write. There are some particulars to this, but the basic exit is “turn write”. The last time I was on Failure Street, my exit was “turn healthy”. I needed to make some healthy decisions. Often times my exit is “turn forgiveness” or “turn the other cheek.”
Your exits may be, “turn family” or “turn sing” or “turn schooling”, etc… What happens is we see the exit. We know we should turn, but we just can’t see ourselves off of Failure Street. We come to believe the lie of the street’s chief resident (remember who that is)…”You are a failure.” “You belong on Failure Street.”
And that brings me to direction number four. Denounce this totally “false lie” (as the King of Siam would say) and knock Satan back where he belongs. Behind You! I was reminded by Charles Stanley in his book, “How to Reach Your Full Potential for God” that when we resist the devil he must flee from us. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
The truth is, we are not failures. We are created in God’s image and for His purposes. We will fail and find ourselves on Failure Street, but God in His mercy always and I mean always provides an exit for us.
It is the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-2
All we have to do is submit and make the turn.
So don’t stay too long. Just one block down Failure Street, then turn …!