When I would tell our kids we were going to Buttermilk Falls, I could expect two equally sincere reactions: “Oh good!” and “Oh no!” See, the “oh good” part was because it was just one of the “coolest” places in our area. There was this high, cascading waterfall, tucked in a remote place that few people knew about. It was magnificent to look at and it was fun to hike around. The “oh no” part was because of the road to get to this special spot. Think moonscape – potholes big enough to swallow an old Volkswagen. You couldn’t avoid these craters; they were everywhere. So you went about as slow as a car can go, bracing yourself for a big bump and then another big bump. And then you were there, and it was great!
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Bumpy Road to a Beautiful Place.”
You know, lots of life’s beautiful places are accessible this very same way – by means of a bumpy road. Maybe you’re traveling one of those hard, even painful, bumpy roads right now. I imagine some people never made it to the majesty of those falls because the bumpy road made them decide to turn back – a temptation that may have occurred to you on your bumpy road. But any member of our family can tell you it was worth the trip. We did, in fact, go back multiple times; knowing full well that the process was not going to be fun. I guess it’s kind of like labor in that regard – a painful process that every birth mother goes through, with a beautiful result that lasts a lifetime. And, often, she’ll go back and do it again.
Our word for today from the Word of God may be a picture of the journey you’re on right now. In Deuteronomy 1:19, God says this to His ancient people, “We set out from Horeb (that’s Mt. Sinai) through all that vast and dreadful desert.” That could be where you are. You’re traversing one of life’s “vast and dreadful deserts.” But that’s not the end of the story. Listen in Deuteronomy 1:21 to where that journey led: “See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
That’s what the desert road, the bumpy road can do to you: make you afraid, make you discouraged, unless you focus on your Lord instead of your load, and on the result more than on the process. The bumps can make you wonder if you’re even on the right road. Which you are, if God led you on it. The long, hard ride can leave you confused and hurting from all the bumps, all focused on yourself. If you’re not careful, you’ll turn around and leave the road God put you on; the road that ultimately leads to the Promised Land He wants to give you.
But it doesn’t feel very much like Promised Land right now. It’s just downright bumpy. What a tragedy, though, if you went through this painful process and bailed out before the beautiful result. The desert, the bumpy road – they’re all part of the Plan. It’s in the wilderness that well, like God’s people of old, you see Red Seas part, water come from rocks, and manna come from heaven. It’s on the hard road that you get rid of the junk that’s keeping you from God’s best. Because it’s there that you’re forced to abandon all self-reliance and learn total reliance on your Lord. That’s when you are ready for your Promised Land.
So don’t doubt in this darkness what God has told you in the light. There is no Promised Land without a wilderness. There is no new life without the pain of labor. There is no Easter morning without a Good Friday. Yes, it’s a bumpy road. But it leads to a very beautiful place if you don’t turn back.