I had a bit of a late night on Monday.
Immediately after work, I drove about an hour to hang out with a dear sister in Christ before she heads off to summer work, and after we said our goodbyes, I headed to the nearby theater to watch “Captain America: Civil War” with my little brother before he heads off to his summer internship.
When I stepped out of the theater, it was raining and dark outside. I don’t like driving in the rain or driving at night, so having to do both was not something that I looked forward to, but that night, I was glad to do so, because I was able to spend time with some pretty great people. And when I considered God’s blessings on the day, my fears and worries about the drive were dissolved. So, as I drove home, I sang praises and prayers. And in one of my prayers, I sang out, “Speak to my heart. Speak to me through the dark. Speak to me through the storm.” When I grew silent, and there was only road noise to be heard, Jesus answered with the impression of a phrase upon my heart; “Keep your eyes on the road.”
I think myself a fairly safe driver, especially after I hit a deer 6 years ago. It is surprising how much more cautious and wise you become after accidentally destroying something. Yet, even though I may be a better driver, I still like to survey my surroundings; setting my car on cruise and enjoying the scenery. Normally, I do not “survey” much at night, but I still realized the wisdom of the impression on my heart, so I heeded the warning and kept my eyes on the road. And as I looked at the road ahead, I saw flaming torches…
The road was freshly paved, so, with the coating of the rain, it reflected everything; like the surface of a tranquil river. The roadwork was not yet complete, so traffic cones lined the road on both sides. The reflection of the cones on the road’s river-like surface resembled flaming torches. Of course, no fire could withstand the rain that was falling, but it was surreal; looking at a reflection and seeing an entirely different world untouched by the worst that this world can bring.
Whenever I drive, I always have a thought in the back of my mind that it would be really sad to die in a car accident. Yes, it would be tragic, but not forever sad, because I would have found my home in Heaven and seen the place that I had only before seen in reflections. The danger of the road and the inability to see clearly through my windshield did not faze me as I looked at the torches in the rain. They burned and reflected a place not attached to this one; a place far more beautiful, peaceful, and wholly worth dying for. I truly am grateful for the life I have been given, but the changes and sorrows that come serve to remind me of an ever present ache in my heart for Jesus and for Heaven. Right now, I can only see Heaven through a dark mirror, but at least I can catch those glimpses.
The pain of this life, and the sorrows that come with it, along with the joys and blessings of life, are like the traffic cones reflected on the road. If I only look at what the naked eye can see, I would see the cones as a good sign that I am on the road; that I am alive. That life may be painful or joyful, but what I can see and feel here does not hold my eternity. If I look beyond the sign, at the reflection, then my mind’s eye is blessed to see an eternal light and everlasting hope untouched by this world. The pains I face, as well as the sorrows, are unfortunate signs of life itself; life in a broken and sinful world. The joys I face, as well as the blessed times, are also signs of life, but just like the pain and sorrow, they do not keep me from my eternal hope in Christ or add to it.
In the reflection of pain and sorrow is the image of a Man hanging on a cross. He suffered, because there is a price for life as it is; there is a price for sin. By the grace of God, I have looked upon the face of the Man on the cross and have believed on His name, so the reflection is not simply pain, but hope. The cross itself was not eternal; the pain and sorrow it caused lasted for only a moment in time. Eventually, the pain ended and sorrow was buried, and three days later, what was once pain became peace, healing, joy, and life. In this life, I have hope for joy, rest, and peace; and in Heaven, I have those things without end or interruption. So, for those “traffic cones” that stand for the good things in life, their reflections also are the Man on the cross; His arms stretched wide to show how much deeper and wider His love and grace is for me than any good thing that I have on this earth.
While I am here on earth, the road will need to be repaired and built, and there will be traffic cones as beacons and signs that I am still on the road, but this is a short stretch of road; at the end is home. There is no time to worry about what can be seen and felt; there is something far greater to be concerned about.
Where does my eternity lie?
Do the traffic cones in life block my way and fill my vision or will I step back and look at the reflection in the rain and joyfully drive through?
Are my eyes on the road, with its beauty and pain, or do I have my head turned away, missing out on blessings that come through hardships?
Of course, life is not as simple as a road under construction, which is the reason why I pray, sing, and ask God for guidance… And He answers.
The world would place scales upon my eyes or ask me to turn my face away, to deny pain and live for happiness alone. But when Jesus placed His hands on my eyes, the scales fall away, and I saw the pain in my Savior’s face, realizing then that pain was necessary for my salvation. If I should suffer, then let it be for the glory of the One Who has the power to carry me through. I will not deny the pain and the sorrow, but I will point to my Savior; how He suffered for me, yet gained the victory. If I should be blessed beyond measure, then let my lips sing the praises of the One who healed me. I cannot allow even the joys and awesome things of this life to become greater in my heart than my love for the Giver of those things.
So, I drive through, trusting that reflections will one day be seen face to face. I keep singing and praying, trusting that answers will come, even though I be surrounded by darkness and shadow.
The light shines in the darkness, into the depths of my heart, and burns with an eternal flame that nothing on earth can quench.
Keep your eyes on the road, and you just might see reflections of glory.