It’s nice to ride the road of life with windows down and radio blaring. Human nature delights in the easy way, and joy riding requires no thoughtful planning, no specified packing, and no specific destination. Frivolous. Fun. Random. The adventure of come-what-will fits snugly against the directionless mindset the Scriptures call “untoward.”
Proverbs 16:25 (ESV) says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Then, Proverbs 21:2 (KJV) further explains, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” When David asked God to search and try him in Psalm 139, he knew that his soul had the potential to travel a wrong road, that it would be guided by his affections and thoughts. He’d already experienced the disappointment of wrong choices and learned that left to his own devices, his way would lead him somewhere he wouldn't want to be. We, too find that our way leads to unplanned endings. Even directionless ventures have a destination, if only to make a full circle. Life’s road also has a destination, transitioning us from time to eternity.
Eternity in either Heaven or hell is both the journey's end and the continuation of life. Whatever road we have chosen in life determines what we transition to. The broad path has lots of room for self-navigation. It is the way that seems right. Lead by ease, it’s fun, carefree, unencumbered, but it ends in death. The expectation of walking on golden streets becomes skid marks on life’s highway. They’re mere remnants left at the precipice of eternal damnation. The too-late realization of having taken the wrong road. But there’s an everlasting way. That way isn’t directed by self. It requires God’s direction. With His leading, there are no chasms into which to plunge and no tire marks of regrets. It is a seamless ride, a movement from gravel to freeway as joy sublime lifts this earthly vessel in which the soul rides into the heavens.
No one who parks in front of the pearly gate gasps in surprise. This is a planned destination. Just as vacationers save for travel expenses, we have to make the decision that Heaven will be our last stop. We evaluate the cost. Determining to trust God’s Spirit to direct, we also take responsibility to follow His leading. For our spiritual man to make a heavenly destination, some forethought is required. If we physically took to the road without thought about tomorrow, we’d quickly run out of provision. Similarly, having no concern for the eternal, we can expect to be ill-prepared for the setbacks we encounter. We don’t just meander aimlessly around city streets and expect to arrive at a specific place, we MapQuest or make flight arrangements. We have a route to follow. If Heaven is our goal, we need to follow the spiritual travel guide, the Bible. Knowing ahead of time the direction we have set, we don’t set our course by random decisions of what looks good in the moment. Knowing my expected end, we pack specifically, whether that be Bermuda shorts or a parka. Heaven is a comfortable climate; therefore we don’t travel with weights and sins. We choose the simple, unvarnished truth rather than the cluttered accessories of shallow appearances and bring along the currency of prayer and the gospel. Counting the cost means we budget and plan rest stops in anticipation that our need to eat and take potty breaks. During our spiritual travel, we will need to invest in some things, perhaps giving of our time and means to the hurting. We’ll take those Sabbaths of rest, satisfy our hunger and thirst on the word, and we’ll eliminate some things from life from time to time through personal sacrifice. We look ahead. With eager anticipation, we set out on the clearly marked path. It’s narrow, with just enough room for one traveler and the Beloved. He’s walked this way before and whispers gentle guidance that is in perfect agreement with the roadmap of his word. We find the narrow way freeing. It’s not a directionless joy ride of self-indulgent ease. A peaceful breeze blows; joyful music sounds; anticipation of beyond-the-moment ecstasy builds. This is the way everlasting; it is God’s way. Choosing His path rather than our own, we’ll arrive in high style at our heavenly destination.