Anyone with a few years of driving experience has at one point or another hit what is known as “black ice.” You are driving down the road enjoying the drive when all of a sudden, without warning, you no longer have control of your vehicle. Steer right, you go left. Steer straight, you go right. It is a pretty scary thing; especially if you are going faster than you really should have been, or happen upon a curve in the road.
Now, if there was a sign posted that warned you to look out for black ice, then you could basically prepare yourself and adjust your driving accordingly. Essentially, a warning provides you with an opportunity, a chance if you will, to overcome an approaching obstacle. However, without the warning, you face a greater difficulty in overcoming the obstacle. Unlike that red “check engine” light that we may ignore in our vehicles for long periods of time, most warnings in life, most especially those from the Lord, are not meant to be ignored.
Paul warns us in the book of Romans of an obstacle, or a common barrier present to all men desiring to live a life in obedience to God. “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 8:21 NIV) Essentially, Paul is like the sign in the road, warning us that we need to be aware of the presence of evil each and every day. This “evil” can also be considered that potential to sin which exists in ALL of us.
EVERY time we have the best of intentions to be obedient, evil is right there pulling us in a different direction. Ask any man who has tried to live a life of obedience to God and he can share with you the draining process of being pulled away by sin while he struggles to reach towards Christ’s likeness. The best of intentions is often met with the best of adversaries. Like an offensive line vs. a defensive line in the muddy trenches, there is a war of wills to be won.
Remember however, that you are not alone. For the Lord reminds us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20 ESV) I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel more at peace knowing that the Almighty God has my back no matter what! Why? Because personally speaking, I am a knucklehead. So, knowing that the Lord is with me is quite reassuring! Like a fighter pilot with his wingman present, our Savior is watching our back.
So, let’s take a look at a few examples of evil showing its ugly mug, and calling you up to “chat.” Think about how every April when you do your taxes, evil is right there telling you that you can add this or subtract that, in order to realize a greater return. Or remember how as you flip through the channels late at night looking for the day’s sports scores on SportsCenter, how easily the television reminds you that there is flesh on practically every channel to be viewed if you so desire. Quick note - Flipping through the channels (especially if you have 200 of them) after midnight is just asking for trouble!! If you know what channel ESPN is on (which pretty much any guy does) just go directly to it! Better yet, it’s after midnight, just go to bed!
Keeping these things in mind, we need to be aware of the decisions we are making on a daily basis. Are the decisions we are making more in line with the good (God) or evil? By aligning our daily decisions with the direction that the Lord provides us in his Word, we can adjust our lives accordingly. Remember, the best part is – we are not alone! So, we have been shown the warning sign, and we have the right intentions. Is that enough? Not a chance! Many have said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions without action are essentially a mere wishing. They amount to nothing. Just having intentions, hoping to be a “better person,” is like trying to catch the wind – it just won’t happen. God does not want an intention, he wants an action. The action of loving him with your entire being and in utter obedience! “Do not merely listen to the word, do what it says.” (James 1:22 NIV)
However, if we take a look at our lives – where we have been, the direction we are heading, the place we wish to be, then we stand a great opportunity to adjust our lives accordingly (like the car on black ice) and with a Strategy in hand, live in obedience to God. One final thing to keep in mind- As Winston Churchill stated, “However beautiful the Strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” God is.