Summary: When you think of it, roadwork is a pretty good analogy of the journey of faith. God accepts us where we are but wants us to become like his Son. For most of us, that means there’s serious roadwork to do.
My wife and I used to live Uptown on Octavia Street between Constance and Laurel just two blocks from Tchoupitoulas. At that time, the Port of Orleans was redoing Tchoupitoulas. When the street was dug up, they found that many of the feeder drainage pipes from the neighborhoods were busted and leaking and needed to be replaced as well. Our street was one of those. They dug up our street, replaced the pipes and then refilled with dirt and sand. And it stayed that way for 6 months. I felt like we were living in a third world country. Every time it rained, it was a mess. Finally, I got so fed up, I pass out flyers on our street encouraging every resident to call our Councilwoman to complain all on the same day, April 1st. She finally tracked me down as the source and asked if this was a joke and I told her no and invited to come see for herself because we were miserable. She came and couldn’t believe what she saw or how long our street had been like that. They started work on the street the next week.
Anybody been Uptown lately? There’s roadwork everywhere! What was a 10 minute drive can be 30-40 minutes. Even right outside the side doors of our sanctuary, Jefferson Parish mysteriously dug up Elmeer even though the concrete slabs looked just fine. We lost parking for weeks and the road noise interrupted our Healing Service. What a headache? And let’s not forget the 10 years of construction on I-10 through Metairie. Roadwork! It’s everywhere! Nobody likes it. Since Katrina, it seems we have had one consistent fact of life and that’s roadwork. The Times Picayune writes, “Dodging road construction zones will be a way of life.” They’re right, As a result, we try to avoid roadwork any way possible.
When you think of it, roadwork is a pretty good analogy of the journey of faith. God accepts us where we are but wants us to become like his Son. For most of us, that means there’s serious roadwork to do. Roadwork is usually a three step process: tearing up the old, redoing the subsurface and then constructing the new. (put all on one slide) And in many respects that’s exactly what God wants to do in us. He wants to remove all of the old which reflects more of the world than it does His will and ways. This can be a painful process because many of us have become entrenched in our ways and have grown comfortable with the way things are, even if they don’t necessarily line up with God’s will for our lives. Second is the subsurface work. This is where God moves beyond the outward actions and appearances we project and begins to do interior work, realigning our heart and mind with God’s. This too can be difficult work because it can involve many things we have buried long ago but never really dealt with. It can also reveal many non-Biblical assumptions and attitudes we hold dear and near to our hearts. The third thing that God wants to do is to instill new practices, attitudes and behaviors in us which reflect those of Jesus. This often involves building a new road for you to journey filled with new attitudes, new eyes through which to see the world, new habits and new actions.
Roadwork can be difficult and painful. It’s why we do just about everything to avoid such experiences and why many don’t choose the road less traveled. This is why Jesus tells us to calculate the cost before we ever start this journey, because it’s not a matter of if there is roadwork that needs to be done in you and me but how much. Now listen to me very carefully, Jesus accepts you as you are but he’s out to transform you into the person you were created to be.
So again and again, we see Jesus warn us that following him is difficult, exhausting, time-consuming, strenuous and costly. There’s a cost to following Jesus. It could cost you your family, your job, your friends, your hobbies, your lifestyle and quite possibly even your life itself. So how do we embrace the work that God wants to do in us?
First, verbally declaring your commitment. Most people think their faith is personal and private.” It’s not! You’ve got to speak it out loud. The problem is that when you declare a commitment out loud, everything changes! When I was in college, we had a discussion with some of my fraternity brothers of what we were going to give up for Lent. One person said they were going to give up chocolate. Another said they were going to give up fried foods. I said I was going to give up Galaga, the video game sitting in the front entrance of the fraternity which I was addicted to and the reigning champion of the house with the highest score. After three weeks, I was dying watching all of my fraternity brothers playing the game I couldn’t and I was itching to play. One Friday afternoon, I was ready to break down and put my quarters in when someone said, “Hey, what about your commitment for Lent?’ That’s the power with public commitments. Others are going to hold you accountable.