January 11, 2019

On the Road

Hope International finds water for people who walk hours each day to bring this precious commodity to their families. We saw a film where the crew went to a village and changed the lives of its people with a well of clean, spring water. But before that could happen, they had to build a road just to get there.

Most travelers appreciate roads. Last year on our trip to Italy we were amazed at the road system with hundreds of tunnels through the mountains so people could easily go from one place to another. I’ve seen films of just the opposite, where the roads were deeply rutted or looked more like a squirrel track. Often buses and other vehicles crash or fall over a cliff because the road is narrow or nearly impassable.

When Jesus was born “in the fullness of time” part of God’s plan included good roads. The Roman system of roads were an important contribution to the task of sharing the Gospel. Jesus told His followers . . .

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

To get to the ends of the earth, the disciples needed the measure of ease and safety of a good road system so they could travel back and forth across the Roman empire. These roads were well paved, well drained, and usually patrolled.

When I think of the NT and roads, several come to mind. The road travelled by Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The roads Jesus walked as He made His way through the many places where He ministered to people. The road to Damascus where the man Saul was confronted by the resurrected Christ and transformed into the Apostle Paul. The road where an Ethiopian man met Philip and heard the Gospel, was baptized and took the good news with him to his homeland. The wise men travelled from the east on a road.

The word road can also be translated with highway, etc. However, this word is also a metaphor. God’s prophets told about the Messiah who would come and about John who would prepare people for His coming:

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ” (Matthew 3:3)

Jesus also referred to following Him as a way, sometimes a path. He said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14)

Roads also remind me of maps. I often use them to get from here to there. Today, the Holy Spirit reminds me that the Word of God is a road map. It shows me life’s destination and God’s route, also the sidetracks, detours, and dead ends I must avoid. My travel from faith to greater faith, from here and now to heaven and eternity requires reading the map, studying it, staying off the roads that go nowhere or lead to destruction.

Reading God’s map means trusting it (not like the GPS that puts you in the center of a lake). There are many roads, but only One Way:

Jesus said . . . “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Lord Jesus, the Roman roads seem like a side issue, but they were important to Your plan. Even more, the Word of God gives me greater understanding of the way I should take and helps me along that way. Yet even more than that, You are the way to my Father, the One I can trust even when the path seems twisted or dark or unsure. You hold my hand and You guide me on the amazing road of this life taking me safely to my final destination.

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