My ‘train of thought’ began on Monday when the snow started melting in earnest and a street sign fell into the street – a “DEAD END STREET” sign – in front of my office window. I went outside and got the sign out of the path of traffic; when I told my older children this, they both wanted to know if they could keep the sign in their room. This event made me ask two questions: 1. Will people travel down the cross street across from my office, not knowing it is a dead end; and 2. Why would young adults want a dead end sign?
My ‘train of thought’ continued throughout the week as I addressed a pressing need of our congregation – initiating the conversation that will lead to a mission and vision statement for the church. At our annual meeting last month, we determined we would best utilize our resources if we could concisely state both what we are committed to doing together (a mission statement) and where we are challenged to going together (a vision statement). I have been reading dozens of statements from churches big and small to formulate thoughts that will inform our dialogue as a community of faith.
My ‘train of thought’ now runs on these two tracks: one about a dead end street sign and the other about a directional statement. I assume I am not alone. I imagine that there are many people who are thinking similar thoughts. I cannot be the only one fearing that I may be directing my life (and the lives of others) down an unmarked dead end. Whether it is a decision about a job or a college or a spouse or a vision statement, I wonder what happens if it leads to an ill-advised turn?
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)
Though David wrote this couplet three millennia ago, the truth contained within it speaks to my heart today. It reminds me that as long as we long to find joy in Him He will direct our path. It reminds me that, despite God’s best, we occasionally miss the signs and errantly turn down a dead end. It reminds me that no detour is fatal and God is still present to gently (or not) return us to the path He knows is best for us. For those intent on walking with God, there is no decision that dooms; even if we hastily or ignorantly end up on a dead end, we are given the opportunity to turn around and get back on track.
So, as I go back to thinking about mission statements and vision statements, I am trusting that God will establish the steps He wants Calvary to take. Perhaps I’ll be tempted to head down a dead end as I listen to my internal voice instead of the Spirit. If that happens, I’m sure He’ll help me turn around and maybe He’ll even show me something I might have missed along the way.
Now, what to do with this dirty and bent sign….