My heart still beating wildly, I pulled up to the intersection and looked left. It was then that I learned the unbearably painful truth. It was me, not the woman, who was crazy. I was the one driving the wrong way down ONE WAY Emporia. It was her quick thinking and excellent driving skills that kept us from colliding.
I went back to the same restaurant a short time later. I did not make the same mistake. I exited the parking lot onto westbound Pawnee from the south end of the parking lot, avoiding Emporia altogether.
Not sure how I missed the block-print, bold-lettered, black and white warning signs before. They were there – at the intersection and at the north exit of Braum’s. ONE WAY! No left turn.
You’ve made the same mistake and driven the wrong way down a ONE WAY street, haven’t you? Maybe you didn’t have a dramatic, near miss experience, but you’ve done it, right? Not purposefully. It just happened.
What did you do when you discovered your error? Did you drive head on screaming at the top of your lungs into an oncoming eighteen wheeler? No! Did you stop your car in the middle of the road and cry? I hope not.
You corrected yourself. You exited onto the first available side street, thankful it wasn’t ONE WAY the wrong way. You flipped a U-y, squealing your tires as you rapidly reversed direction. You jerked your wheel hard right and drove up over the curb onto the sidewalk. (I’m kidding.) You did something to avoid high-speed contact with the vehicles headed your way. That’s what sensible people do when they discover they’re headed east on a westbound ONE WAY street. Reasonable folks don’t honk and glare and cuss and rant and rave at the dozens of law-abiding drivers going the right way.
So why don’t we do the same reasonable thing when we find ourselves going the wrong way in life?
We’re sitting in church and the preacher says something about the sin of gossip. We squirm a bit. We know we should stop. The message is clear. We swallow the lump in our throat as God gently urges us to give up backbiting. But right after church we find ourselves picking up the phone, sharing totally confidential “prayer concerns” with a friend.
We hear Jesus say lust in the heart and physical adultery are equally sinful, but we keep viewing porn on the web. We know our habit isn’t right. We know we’re lusting as we visit illicit sites, but we do it anyway. We don’t walk away. We don’t ask for assistance from God or from a brother.
We know our anger is ruining our family, but we proudly refuse to pray for help to overcome our rage. We know man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness life God desires. We see the mess we’re making of everything, but we keep yelling and screaming at our kids, hitting them, throwing things.
We hate our next door neighbor. They did us wrong years ago. We know forgiveness is the right way. We don’t let God deal with issues of vengeance. We hold a bitter grudge.
Shall I go on? For every sin the Bible lists, there are a thousand people who, on any given day, refuse to accept the truth. They keep doing the wrong thing, ignoring God’s warnings and they self-destruct. Maybe for awhile things are okay as far as they’re concerned, but then they crash and burn. The wrong they’ve done, the wrong they’ve kept doing, comes back to bite them. Their family leaves. Their friends write them off. Their marriage crumbles. Their boss fires them.
God’s message to them – to you if you’re one of them – is simple enough. Turn away from your evil ways and follow God’s ONE WAY. Or, as Jesus put it, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17, NIV)