An XP3 Devotional
by Sarah Anderson
(Before reading this devotional, re-read Luke 15:11-32.)
Have you ever arrived somewhere and thought, “How in the world did I get here?” Maybe you zoned out one day and walked from lunch to your next class with no recollection of what happened in between. Or maybe it happened in some bigger stuff.
Maybe you felt that way at the checkout line when you handed over the credit card or the cash to buy another pair of jeans, another video game, another thing to satisfy your appetite for more. Or maybe you felt that way when you lied to your parents for the umpteenth time about where you were going and what you were going to do when you got there. Maybe you felt that way one night when you found yourself, again, on the web site you know you shouldn’t be looking at, but the urge to go there felt uncontrollable. Regardless of how, we end up in these places saying, “How in the world did I get here?”
I read a Chinese proverb recently that said, “If we don’t change the direction we are headed, we will end up where we are going.” When I first saw it, I thought, yeah, no kidding–not exactly profound. But it got stuck in my head. And it resurfaced again and again over the course of the next few days. And suddenly, it seemed a lot more profound than I first thought. Because sometimes we live like that isn’t true. Sometimes we hear a voice that tells us differently, and sometimes we listen to it. Sometimes, knowingly or unknowingly, we start out in a direction and we truly believe that the outcome will not reflect the choices we are making.
When we first overspend and overindulge, do we actually believe the things we own will end up owning us? When we first lie to our parents, do we honestly think it will become a habit? When we first go to the inappropriate web site, do we truly feel it will turn into an addiction? Or do we listen instead to the voice that lured us there in the first place? That if we don’t do these things, we are missing out, that there is something available to us that looks far better than our current circumstances. And as poor, as unwise, or as flat-out stupid as our current choices may seem, we think that when we arrive at our destination it will be totally different. Do you think it ever really turns out that way? Ask the younger son.
“If we don’t change the direction we are headed, we will end up where we are going.” True. But do you know what might be even more true? If we keep listening to the voice of the Enemy, we will end up nowhere near where he has promised to take us. Our poor choices, influenced by a misguided voice, will lead to a poor destination. So the younger son ends up in a pig pen. And you and I end up imprisoned by our bad decisions. An addict. A slave. A liar. And we ask ourselves, how did I get here? By thinking that the voices we listened to were true, by thinking that the choices we were making were going to get us some place different from where we arrived. We end up confused, overwhelmed and possibly defeated.
Maybe one of the best things we can do in learning to overcome the Enemy is begin to work backwards. Where do you want to be? Where do you want to end up? What dream do you have for your future—a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now as a full-fledged adult? And then decide if the voice you are listening to is going to get you there. If you keep going the way you are headed, will you arrive where you want to, or come to your senses in the pig pen?
No one wants to wake up one morning asking, “How did I get here?” with the realization that we have a lot of cleaning up and a lot of making up to do. The younger brother had a long walk home to his father. He had a lot of backtracking to do. A lot of time to think through all the things that had gotten him to where he was. And he ended up right where he started: back on the farm. But this time with no cash, no inheritance and some hard-learned lessons under his belt.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t have to make the long walk back to the farm? What can you do to start quieting the Enemy’s voice today, so you don’t end up in the pig pen tomorrow? What can you do now to make sure that the direction you are headed in will get you to the place God has designed for you?
Questions to ask yourself:
- What do you think was going through the younger son’s head as he walked back to the farm? If you were in his place, what would be going through your head?
- Evaluate different areas of your life: friendships, relationships with your parents, studies, sports, relationship with God. Based on the Chinese proverb, “If we don’t change the direction we are headed, we will end up where we are going,” where are you going in these areas? How do you need to change your direction?