Thursday, December 29, 2016

WRONG WAY ON THE PARKWAY


It was the middle of a weekday afternoon, so I won’t blame what I witnessed on some holiday office party gone awry.    And it wasn’t raining or snowing at the time, so weather wasn’t a factor.  And based on the driver’s defiance, this incident seemed not to be the result of any medical emergency.

So, I’m not exactly sure what led to it, but there he was – trying to exit from the Merritt Parkway using the entrance ramp!

In other words, he was going the wrong way.  Despite all the big red and white signs warning him against proceeding in that deadly direction.  Despite all the drivers heading towards him with their headlights flashing and their horns a-honking and their arms flailing outside of their hastily opened windows. 

If this guy had a death wish, it looked like it was about to come true.  I say that because he didn’t immediately pull over to the shoulder.  Nor did he just stop his car and stop the madness.  He just kept driving, right into the oncoming traffic.

It was as if he considered it to be his own Merritt!

I won’t tell you how this scary scene ended, in part, because I got outta there as quickly as possible, and in part, because his errant car was just a “vehicle” for a metaphor.

Here’s the direction I’m headed with this…

There are millions of people in this country who believe that America is headed in the wrong direction.  And for good reason.  You see, over the last 18-24 months, we’ve been force-fed a steady diet of negative news about our economy, our infrastructure, our schools, our health care system, our tax codes, our immigration policy, our trade policy, and our criminal justice system.  Candidates of every ilk were unabashedly vocal this past election cycle about the downward direction in which the U.S. is seemingly headed. 

But it’s not just politics, is it?

I attended the 2016 General, Jurisdictional, AND Annual Conferences of my beloved United Methodist Church, and I heard the same thing over and over and over again - from laity and clergy, from conservatives and progressives: the church is headed in the wrong direction. 

Of course, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we might admit that this feeling of wrong-directionness is not limited to just a national thing, or even a denominational thing.  It’s also a personal thing.

Ask yourself…How is my marriage?  Is it headed in the right direction?  How is my weight?   Is that headed in the right direction?  How is my career path, or my spiritual journey, or my relationship with my parents/siblings/kids?  Are all of these things headed in the right direction? 

If not, then I have one word for you – JANUARY!

Now, I realize that January can seem like the Nazareth of months (“Can anything good come out of January?”), but if we use it responsibly, it can be an amazing once-in-a-yeartime opportunity to turn things around and start heading in the right direction.   

When our calendars reset to triple zero this weekend, we can, relying on the strength and grace of God, resolve to restore our less-than-perfect relationships with our spouses, partners, parents, children, siblings, etc.  And we can resolve to be more intentional about eating healthier, or exercising more, or drinking less.  And we can resolve to get off the parkway and onto our knees as we surrender our keys and our lives to God, through any number of spiritual disciplines. 

Or we can continue to head in the wrong direction for yet another year, relying on our own “merit”. 



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