Getting Off the Road to HellOct 03, 2022
(Please note: This is continued from the previous post titled, "I've Been on the Road to Hell.")
We advanced a few yards only to encounter what can best be described as a concrete tube so huge it could have served as a culvert diverting a river into the ocean. Just a few more inches in diameter, and we could have driven right through it. Only this wouldn’t have helped because the make-shift landfill blocked us on the other end.
Once more, with no-margin-for-error, we piloted between this cement nemesis and another pile of charred trees. Just a little while longer and we’d be rescued by the main highway we could see up ahead.
The liquid blackness returned.
It could have passed for a small pond in parts of the world. It stretched from dump side to yard fence side, and there was no way forward. It was like the uncrossable divide Jesus spoke of in the story of the rich man who died and went to hell and the poor man who departed and entered heaven. I almost expected to see flames of fire leap up from the earth beneath and see desperate hands reach up to beg for salvation.
Silence filled the car as we recognized there was only one option.
Go back. To the beginning.
Before succumbing to this reality, I scanned the yards of the small village, still asleep under a blanket of fading stars, and considered whether a fast & furious drive through backyards was morally acceptable in the circumstance. I didn’t wrestle long with that thought because the image of explaining this to the rental car agency jolted me back to reality.
Trying situations do have a way of making us assess our morality.
On the way back, the unflappable, never-admit-a-mistake GPS did offer an alternative route. “Turn left.”
Uh huh. And we’ll just plow our petite auto, with its battered suspension system, through the keep-out-elephants fence and meander through the endless groves of citrus trees until we end up … getting arrested for trespassing. The latter I could have considered as a possible alternative to traversing the road to hell once more, but even in my drained state, I knew the fence would win if challenged by our Hot-Wheel on steroids.
So back we went, emerging almost two hours later, at our starting point.
You know why we followed this road?
Because a satellite somewhere had seen this world’s-largest-succession-of-potholes and mapped it as a road. Perhaps it had been. Like in the time of pharaohs. I’ve driven on better abandoned mountain logging trails. But because the mapmakers had never seen this road up close, they labeled it as an avenue for automobiles.
Like life, sometimes if you’re too far away, you’re going to mistake what you think exists for what does.
In addition to the macro and wide-angle lenses we’ve looked at the past few weeks, you need a zoom lens. An ability to get up close. To see what’s real.
This isn’t about proximity. We mistake thinking because we’re close to a person relationally or geographically, we accurately see them. What they think or feel or believe or need or want or fear or crave or care about or not. Or we are deceived to believe how we see ourselves is correct and needs no close-up examination.
But seeing ourselves or others accurately always requires one discipline -- humility.
Humility is the courage for us, and others, to get close enough to see the potholes.
The satellite was too far removed to see reality. It saw what looked to be a road and assumed, instead of verified, this was true. Hence, “turn right” became a journey on the road to hell for unsuspecting tourists.
When Jesus issued the first great universal calling, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” he knew a life devoted to fulfilling this commandment, along with the second, was the fix for our potholes.
Could you be avoiding zooming into your heart’s motives and mindsets and mistake a familiar way of living for what’s really a vicious assortment of draining potholes, making it treacherous for people to navigate life with you?
Could you be avoiding zooming into someone else’s behavioral patterns and mistake a path of healthy connecting for a series of life-battering potholes, leading you to waste precious time on the road to relationship hell?
If so, God calls you to zoom in and see what’s real, not what’s desired. Never for the purpose of shaming you or anyone else but always freeing you to move forward at full speed and not miss precious opportunities. Some which may turn out to be once-in-a-lifetime.
Get a zoom lens and avoid the road to hell.
©Stephanie D. Smith, 2022