Last night I was driving to Durham to meet my cousin at the Streets at Southpoint to go to the Duke-Elon men’s basketball game. My gas light was on in my car by the time I pulled up the ramp on Exit 267 off of I-40 W, and I had a decision to make.
To my right was a gas station. I could see it from the highway. I had some time, so I could go to the right, get the gas, and then go back the other way, to the left of the ramp, to get to Southpoint to meet up with my cousin.
However, in my “I know everything there is to know” mindset, I thought, “Well, there’s got to be a gas station over by Southpoint.” Southpoint, for those who don’t know, is a pretty popular mall in Durham, N.C., with some nice restaurants and a movie theatre. Really popular place. They’ve got a Chipotle and an Apple store; what else is there needed for a great mall?
So I turned left (keep in mind, I completely ignored the gas station to the right). And then what did I do? I drove for 15 minutes away from Southpoint, eventually ending up in Cary at a small gas station with just four pumps. All the while, my needle was teetering on the E. I prayed several times to God that my car wouldn’t run out of gas on some back road somewhere.
To be fair to myself, I used Siri to ask her, “Where’s the nearest gas station?” She would tell me, but she was telling me to take a U-turn to get there. No, I’m not u-turning. For whatever reason, in my mind, I thought it would be dumb to take a U-turn. Reminder: the gas needle is past the E. I’m pretty sure I was 5 more minutes from being out of fuel. Thankfully, I got that fuel, but it took me much longer. I was also 15 minutes away from Southpoint.
I didn’t realize how stubborn I am until last night. Boy, it was a revealing situation. And it opened my eyes to how stubborn I am in other areas of my 22-year-old life.
Particularly when it comes to being a disciple of Christ. I know that there’s help in this one direction, in taking a way that seems unnatural at the time and maybe doesn’t “feel right.” But I decide to go my own way and figure things out on my own.
Taking fighting sin, for instance. It would seem easy and natural for me to take the left turn, to go my own way and figure things out on my own. “Besides,” I reason, “there’s got to be something down the road that will help me out if I do things my own way.” I do this knowing full well that, if I take the sometimes awkward and always out of “my way” path, I just might actually accomplish something.
But my stubbornness kicks in. Usually turning right means confessing the sin to someone (sometimes an incredibly awkward conversation), or putting out an uncomfortable amount of effort that sometimes I just don’t want to put out. It comes down to me, in the moment, trusting myself more than trusting God, putting more faith in my ability to make something up instead of trusting the tried and true way that is laid out for us in Scripture.
Following Jesus is a lifelong struggle of learning to let go of doing things “our way.” To be honest, I’m still not 100 percent sure how to do it. I’ve told a few people in the last couple months that I’ve not trusted God enough times to know that’s dumb. Let me explain.
So many times in my life I’ve said that I’ll take my way over God’s way, whatever that is. You kinda have to take it one situation at a time. I’ll assess the situation and say, “OK, I’ll do things my way.” Sometimes it’s a conscious decision, sometimes it just happens. I then realize later, whether that’s seconds, minutes or days later, that I was being dumb and I should have just done things God’s way.
I’ve got to kill the stubbornness I live with. It’s got to go. There’s no benefit to my stubbornness when it’s all about me and what I think is right, UNLESS what I’m stubborn about is God-glorifying. That’s a big unless. And that’s a whole other blog post in itself. We are called to stand firm on the truth, stand firm for what we believe.
And that means standing firm on killing the stubbornness that distracts us from God.