The Rest Stop
Imagine your family is going on a tour of the country, a trip of a lifetime. Looking forward to adventure, you pack for every conceivable occasion. Your car is full of tents, backpacks and other camping gear for roughing it, but also includes dress shirts and pants for those occasions which call for a great meal in a good restaurant, at a fine hotel. You are eager to get started and take to the open road, the interstate unfurling before you as you race down the highway.
Before you get five miles away, you pull off the road and into a rest stop.
“It will just take a minute,” you tell your family, and step out of the car.
Your family waits as time passes. When you come back, you invite them to get out and check out the rest stop for themselves.
“It’s really pretty nice here.” Your face is beaming. “This place has everything we need; bathrooms, drinks; even a vending machine. We could stay here. It’s not too bad!”
In a few minutes your family sets up camp in the rest area. You give your kids some loose change for the vending machine and sit back in your lawn chair, with your wife, to await the adventure you had always dreamed of having.
Other travelers pass by, quickly pulling in and out of the rest stop, and think your entire family is nuts as you wave at them from your cozy campfire by the interstate.
Walking in the Kingdom of God is not that different, for many people, than the roadside adventure pictured above. Starting with enthusiasm, and hoping for something special and wonderful, they look for God to bring beauty for ashes, to set them free from their captivity and heavy burdens, and pray that He repairs the waste places in their lives that generations of unbelief have produced.
Soon, however, they rest for a while. The comfort of familiar church services, the repetitive ebb and flow of life, easy prayer and self-fulfillment proves to be all they need. In time, the warrior God who said that we are to be filled with all His fulness, the God of great miracles, is traded for a quiet, underwhelming Lord who promises us the grace to suffer. The rivers of living water turn, somehow, into an intermittent drink from a glass of cold water. The living Word, which consumes our heart with ravenous passion, is now a daily scripture from a tear-away calendar.
The only hope is to pack up the car and take off, to follow the road that God has set before you, to an adventure that was created before the world began; designed by the One who spread out the heavens like a curtain; an adventure that was created and designed for no one but you.