File this one under, “What Was I Thinking?”. One night when I was 19, I was out running around with a friend from high school. We graduated together the year before and had been friends primarily because we both liked Ford automobiles, especially fast ones. He owned a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang that could best be described with a wonderful old Southern phrase, “ran like a scalded dog”. He owned a horse that was stabled several miles from our neighborhood in what was, in 1973, farmland (now it’s a city of 66,000+).
To get there we had to drive on Ten Mile Road. It’s one of the main east-west roads in the northern suburbs of Detroit that begins at Lake St. Clair and runs west through two counties and several cities. But in 1973 in Novi, it was an unlighted two-lane road. Not a problem when driven at a reasonable speed, even at night. We arrived at the stables, or barn, or whatever it was, checked on the horse, and started home.
It’s largely unnecessary but I should point out that testosterone and horsepower are not a particularly good mix, especially back in those days of ridiculously overpowered vehicles. Having said that, you probably already see where this is going. As we were driving down the road, my friend had what Texans would call a “hey y’all, watch this” moment. (As a word of caution, should you ever hear those words come out of someone’s mouth, get as far away from them as possible, because those may be the last words they’ll ever utter) First, he turned off the headlights. He pushed in the clutch (the car had a manual transmission) and let the car idle down to a near stop. At that point he stomped the accelerator all the way to the floor and kept it there while speed shifting through four gears. Finally, he turned the lights back on. We were going 110 miles an hour. Down a pitch-black road. As another acquaintance of mine once observed, “an elephant could have jumped out in front of us, and we would have never known what hit us.”
That’s a pretty good metaphor for life. It’s what the world wants us to believe. Life must be run at 100 miles an hour, hurtling into the darkness in pursuit of another adrenaline rush in order to feel ‘alive’. Some see themselves as the driver: in control of their vehicle, rushing headlong down the road, blind to what’s coming but not willing to slow down. Others find themselves in the ‘suicide seat’: along for the ride but with no control over the situation, feeling a mixture of exhilaration and terror at not being able to see ahead, hoping for the best but fearing for the worst. Wherever you are in the vehicle, the possibilities are good that eventually you’re going to hit an elephant.
The truth is you do this is because you’re running scared. The world has lied to you. It’s convinced you this life is all there is, it has no meaning, and so you need to define your own truth. You’re in control, and life is short so get all the thrills and grab all the stuff you can before you die, because that’s all that you’re going to get. It’s what the world calls success. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” “You only go around once in life, so you need to grab all the gusto you can.” If you’re old enough to remember these sayings, then you probably understand how wrong they are.
Very few of us end up with the most toys, and all that gusto-grabbing leaves you broken down, worn out, and usually poor. Because as thrilling as your ride may be, if you can’t see where you’re going the elephant is going to catch up with you sooner or later. Someone else ends up with your toys and you end up dead.
In the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes about living life like this. If ever there was anyone who had all the toys and grabbed all the gusto, it was Solomon. Probably the richest king to ever live, he had women, riches, the works. Know what he said about it? He called it “vanity”, a waste of his time and life. Solomon tells how he tried it all and found no satisfaction in any of it. In the end, there was only one important thing- “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man’. The old king who was the wisest man to ever live demonstrated an appalling lack of common sense- I mean, 700 wives and 300 concubines? 1 Kings 11:4 tells us “When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God”. He forgot the one thing he told everyone else was the most important.
We all experience the difficulty of trying to find meaning in a world that is irrational and chaotic. Many deny the existence of God, citing the overwhelming presence of evil in the world. Materialists will tell you that nothing exists that cannot be experienced with our physical senses. Mysticism recognizes the existence of an impersonal Deity with which we may be joined through meditation and self-surrender. Spiritualism tells us the spirits of the dead exist in a free-floating state and can be contacted by the living. We want desperately to know if there is a life after this one, but nothing in the human experience can provide a definitive answer. We try to determine our future through astrology, psychics, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and other “prognosticators” of mankind’s destiny. We will go to great lengths to seek out answers everywhere but in the one place where they may be found.
The Bible says that Satan caused mankind to disobey God’s specific command and bring down the curse of sin, decay and death upon themselves and the whole creation. Satan has lied to us and keeps us in the dark, letting us believe we are the gods of our lives and destinies. Satan wants us to believe there is no purpose to life, there is nothing after this, so we should live our life to satisfy our own pleasures since we will just die and be gone. What he’s not telling us is he knows his own future, eternal punishment, and he wants to take as many of us with him as possible.
God saw all of this before He ever spoke the first words to bring the creation into being, and he put a plan into action to reclaim his creation, and by extension us, from the curse of having to live under sin and death. His plan was to send his son Jesus to earth, to live as one of us and to become the blood sacrifice to pay the penalty of sin and abolish the curse of death. The evidence of its completion was the resurrection of Jesus after he had died and been buried. Satan’s hold over us was forever broken, if we choose to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We no longer need to live in darkness, fearing what lies ahead and hopeless in a life with no meaning. We have the light so we can see. Jesus tells us, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” We have the promise of God’s forgiveness and salvation for this life, but also the promise of a home in heaven when this life is over. Jesus told his disciples (and those who would believe on Him through them), “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:3). God gives us purpose in this life and a promise to be with Him forever in the next. Stop running aimlessly down a pitch-black road and come into the Light.