I often walk my neighborhood. It is a virtual circle with a road that cuts straight through it. At the end of the straight road is a “Dead End” sign, which I had never really noticed until today. Only if you pass this sign, however, do you get to see my favorite part of every single walk I go on. The road continues into a private drive that leads to the prettiest little chapel you have ever seen. And though the property is private, it is always worth it to continue on and catch a glimpse of the beauty beyond the fence.
I’ve come across more than my fair share of “Dead End” signs in life. You probably know what I’m talking about before I even explain. Those situations in life that seem impossible or seem like there is no way out or seem like they will destroy every little piece of your heart. Those places where all you can see with your eyes is darkness, distress, and the gloom of affliction. Whether you have hit that place because of your own choices, the choices of others, or circumstances entirely outside of your control, there is a huge “Dead End” sign taunting you at the end of the road. “This is the end. You’re done. You’ll never recover from this.”
I have seen many such signs. There was the time in high school when my parents’ marriage ended and my dad moved 8 hours away…there was that time when my siblings and I had to check our mom into a hospital and leave her there so she could get help that we could no longer give…there was that time when my sister’s heart was broken into a million pieces by evil and she laid on my floor crying her guts out…the time that I laid on my face in the closet begging God to take my life because I couldn’t face anxiety another day while my beautiful baby boys laughed and played in the living room… the time that we left our long time church, the place where we grew up and got married, and it literally felt like divorce…the time that I carried my lifeless child in my womb for a week because there were no operating appointments for the D&C…the time that I felt trapped in our marriage and wanted a divorce so bad that I could taste it…the time that they told us we would never make it in time to get our teenage child in China and all our money would end up wasted…the time that company financials were so bad it looked like bankruptcy was the only way… I could go on, but I know that many of you could top my stories with yours.
“Dead End” “Turn back.” “Give up.” “There’s no hope.”
Let me tell you. There are no “Dead Ends” in Christ. None. Every road leads somewhere, even if it is the beginning of another road. Beyond every “Dead End” sign, there is a glimpse of glorious hope if you will choose to trust God in the middle of that place…this place right here…while it still seems hopeless.
The first step to doing that is to ask yourself these three questions when you notice the first sign:
First. “Is this the enemy’s attempt to keep me from God’s promises?” Many “Dead Ends” are really not ends at all, but Satan’s attempt to move you onto a different road because God has something for you on the one you are on. He will make it look like if you continue on this road, it will be useless because it ends in (as my Kate would say) “Nowhere Land”, but really it is exactly the road that God has ordained in your life and if you fight past the signs, you will get to see some amazing thing that He is doing on the other side.
I have faced these “Dead Ends” more often, the closer that I get to the Lord. The enemy gets scared. He tries every tactic in the book to get us to back off, to choose another path. He knows the detriment to his kingdom if we continue on the road that we are on. We saw this clearly when we were in the adoption process. The roadblocks sometimes felt like closed doors, but they were really just roadblocks. I see these signs often right now in building a company in the business world that will one day reach nations. He throws “Dead End” up all the time in defense. He hates it when we are on the right road at the right time for the right Kingdom plan.
If your “Dead End” is the enemy’s attempt to keep you from something that God is doing in your life, you have to fight through. You have to stay in that marriage. You have to keep crawling through that adoption process. You have to hold on to that relationship. You have to walk right past that “Dead End” sign and smile, because on the other side, you will reap if you faint not.
Second. “Am I on the wrong road?” There are no “Dead Ends” in Christ, so if you are truly coming to one, you are pr0bably not on His road. Sometimes the Lord will draw us by letting us come to that painful end of ourselves so that we will realize how much we truly do need Him and how much He desperately desires that noone perish. Places of hopelessness are prime opportunities for us to see the Hope of the World and what better place to be able to see the Light then when our own lives have become too dark to see.
These places bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can more easily change directions. When I realize that I am not in control, I search for someone who is. Don’t be deceived here. Yes, there are wonderful support systems out there…great spouses, dear friends, incredible counselors and therapists, but they are not in control either. They can help and encourage, but they will never be able to “fix” what needs to be changed and adjusted. He is the only One with the blueprints for your life. He knows the exact path to the right road. He is the only one that can be trusted with this journey called life.
The last question. “Is this a God-ordained new beginning?” “Dead End” signs can be warnings that you are actually on the wrong road, but they can also just be the beginning of a new road. While we get stuck mourning the end of one road, the new one is waiting up ahead inviting us to walk forward. Yes, we should grieve and mourn losses when we need to, but we should ALWAYS grieve with hope. It isn’t over. Our journey does not stop here. It doesn’t stop until we meet Him face to face.
As painful as each end has been, continuing to walk hand in hand with my God has been the best decision that I have ever made. Through ends of all kinds, He has been the comfort, the strength, the hope, and the reward. He is faithful, even when we…others…circumstances…are not.
Last night I began writing out some of my favorite verses in Isaiah. This morning as I began to share this with you, I remembered two of them that fell together perfectly for this post.
“They will look toward the earth and see only distress, darkness, and the gloom of affliction, and they will be driven into thick darkness.” Isaiah 8:22
“…the people walking in darkness have seen a great Light, on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned. For You have shattered their burdensome yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian.” Isaiah 9:2, 4
Do you face a “Dead End” sign today? Run to Jesus.