One-way Street

A few years ago, my hometown changed the placement of one of the stoplights that marked the center of downtown. Instead of the stoplights coinciding with Main Street, the lights were now presiding over the next intersection over. This change-up affected me immediately. First, it changed how I traveled to and from work each day. Even though the crossing with the stoplight was one street out of my way, I typically crossed there because I felt safe.
But as construction began and the stoplights were moved to their new location, Main Street was also torn up and everything was a mess. It was hard to walk anywhere, and I found myself asking for a lot more rides to and from the office. The last thing I wanted to do was fall into a hole or get hit by an oncoming car when I crossed the street at the wrong time.
When the construction was complete, Main Street featured wider sidewalks and a more business-friendly environment. But what resulted after this change was a one-way street. For someone like me who walked everywhere, the one-way street was no big deal. But for those who frequently drove to Mina Street, some habits needed to change. No longer could someone pull onto Main Street from either direction; a person needed to think through their route before intersecting with Main Street to take the one-way street into account.
Just last week, a friend came to town who had not grown up in our area. As a result, the Main Street change-up was not an issue for him. He had always known Main Street as it is now, but the one-way still needed to be taken into account. As we drove along the highway, I was proactive in reminding him about the turn onto Main Street. “It’s a one-way,” I said. “We’ll have to turn here and see if we can find a parking place.”
Finding a parking spot proved to be tricky. There was a lot happening on Main Street that day with a Dairy Days event taking place over the noon hour. We were looking forward to a little bonding time over hot dogs, cheese, and ice cream, but first, we needed to find a place to park the car. Finally, up ahead, we saw an open space about two blocks from the park. We were about to park there when I suggested we take a chance and see if there was a spot closer to the park. My friend agreed, and moments later we pulled in to a spot less than a half-block from the festivities.
The moment of indecision and seeking out a spot up ahead had paid off. It was a beautiful day and we would have been fine walking a couple of blocks, but even so, our parking spot was completely worth it. We were able to eat a leisurely lunch under the trees and interact with a few friends who later joined us. After an hour of food and fun, we ventured back to the car, unhurried, knowing exactly where we had parked.
Have you ever thought about one-way streets as they relate to spiritual life? I certainly have made the correlation time and again. I think about the ease of walking along my usual route. One-way streets don’t concern me because I don’t have to abide by normal traffic rules. I can cross here and there and walk along the sidewalks without going against the grain. As a result, I can go anywhere I wish on my own terms. But those who are driving along the same route have to take the one-way street into account. The road is only designed for traffic that flows in one direction. Anyone traveling from the wrong way could potentially put others in harm’s way. And let’s not forget the inconvenience of parking on a narrow one-way street. It’s not easy to drive along a one-way street, and it’s certainly not convenient.
My hometown Main Street is an easy visual for the Narrow Gate that is depicted in Scripture. As Matthew 7:13 reads, it is the broad road that leads to destruction, while the narrow gate is the route the Lord instructs us to take on our life’s journey. Let’s be honest; the narrow gate or road is not always the most glamorous. While everyone around us gossips, lies, cheats, etc, we as Christians have the option to do the complete opposite. We may not be rewarded with a positive approval rating, but we will have taken the high road instead.
But taking the high road isn’t always sunshine and butterflies (or a perfect picnic lunch in the park). It can often be messy, and others will question us as to why we have to be different. While some people might sneak onto the one-way road of life and find a convenient parking place along the way, those who take the narrow gate will take the time to seek out a closer parking spot along the way and will put forward the extra effort to make the journey worth it.
So much negativity is paramount in our world and even our country today. It might be easy for Christians to simply go with the flow: identify with the latest craze, side with the most popular political view, or give in to harmful substances to numb the pain of previous choices. But as Christians, we are held to a higher standard. The Narrow Gate is there to lead us forward for a reason. It may take longer, have more challenges, and be largely inconvenient, but in the end, the reward is worth it.
So before you sneak onto the spiritual one-way street, thinking you can take a short-cut to the high road, think again. The way to the Father’s heart doesn’t come by half-hearted effort. It is only in committing to Him whole-heartedly that we can move forward in service to Him. There is no way we will ever be perfect, but He only asks us to try. So the next time you are presented with that narrow one-way route, take a deep breath and get ready for the ride of your life. No, it won’t be easy, but the reward will be sweet.

One thought on “One-way Street

  1. Truly a fitting analogy; yet another great piece of writing! Also, what a pleasant surprise to find myself back in another one of these; it was such a nice feeling to have come back into town and be able to pick back up right where we had left off!

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