The other evening, I was driving home with just my teenager in the car, and we barely avoided being t-boned by someone pulling out of a neighborhood who apparently didn’t notice the red octagonal sign with the reflective word STOP in all caps. Thankfully, I was able to swerve out of the way in the nick of time. In the interest of transparency, I will admit that the first words that popped into my head were not, “Jesus, take the wheel.”
We drove in silence for a bit as we collected our breath, and then he gestured heavenward said, “Well, at least we know where we’re going.” His comment gave me pause. Granted, we were both wearing our seatbelts, and the oncoming car wasn’t going so fast as to likely cause a serious accident, but it was a humbling reminder that we aren’t promised tomorrow (James 4:13-15).
I have always loathed that sing-song children’s prayer that said, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” What a terrifying thought for a kid! Night, night – hope you don’t die! I’m glad my parents didn’t use that as a bedtime prayer, but still – I needed reassurance that it was going to be ok. The turning point in my relationship with God came when I understood his role as my savior. When your faith is in Christ, fear has no place to reside. I don’t believe that we drift into some bleak oblivion of nothingness when we die; I believe in the hope of eternal life with God through faith in Jesus. To me, that amazing hope is powerful enough to overshadow the fear of dying.
The story in Judges 6-8 tells us about another person who needed reassurance: Gideon. Similar to Moses’ reaction generations prior, Gideon doubted God’s call on his life. He requested sign after sign before he would be convinced that God was directing him and that everything was going to be ok. He eventually obeyed, but he needed his hand held the whole time. I do believe that God gives us signs about his desire for our lives, but like the driver blowing past the stop sign the other day, sometimes we simply choose not to see what’s right in front of our eyes. Sometimes we’re so busy looking for the sign we want to see (like a green light, perhaps?) that we fail to recognize other important signs like Yield, Detour, or Stop.