Dead Ends

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It’s hard to argue this sign. Most everything in this photo has come to an end. The road. The leaves. The field. There is not much ‘joy’ about this photo. The clouds hang low and dark, green grass fading to yellow.

This photo perfectly captures an autumn afternoon in late October. As the golden dogs and I stood looking out over field once full of life, I could not help but think of that Socrates quote that goes something like this:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Sometimes in life we come to dead ends. We find ourselves standing at a place we thought for sure was the way. We planned everything out perfectly specifically to avoid something like this: a sideways square sign telling us you can’t go this way.

It can be discouraging knowing where we want to end up has not changed, but how we get there has.
Rather than getting frustrated and angry, offering unsolicited advice or unnecessary criticisms about the decisions that got us to the dead end, perhaps there is an invitation in this sign…in this photo…to stop and consider how to get going again in the right direction.

A dead end forces us to reflect and reexamine the route that leads us to the stalling of forward motion. This is the perfect place to look at a map and review what might be the better way to get to where we are going. Which might include a great deal of backtracking. Or it might be a simple turn around.

Dead ends though don’t always lead to an ending. It simply reroutes us back to where we needed to be all along. Which is the story of our faith, right?

Y’all might remember this line from the Gospel of Luke:

“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” The story of God is full of God’s people taking a few wrong turns and ending up at what appeared to be a dead end.

But that’s the thing with the story of God, God is not about ending things with death. God is about bringing life from death. God is about resurrection. God is about bringing new life from hearts that lie fallow.

Dead ends are there to reroute us. They are there to prevent us from wandering too far off the road and ultimately from endangering our lives. Dead ends remind us of how sometimes we make wrong turns.

Are you on a path with something in your life that has come to a dead end? Are you in a season where you find yourself asking, “Well, now what?”

If you are, know you aren’t alone. Many of us have been there and might still be there looking at our maps wondering, “Okay, what’s the best course of action here to get to where I want to go?”

Friends, dead ends aren’t bad. Admitting a road we are on has come to an end isn't either. Sometimes we need to reexamine the different roads that make up our faith journeys and see if they are still the best routes to our destination.

The destination of course is a life lived in the love and light of God. Which of course, that road always leads back to the joy of the Resurrection—the promise that death is never the ending.
[Adam Quine, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]


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