The “S” curves along Interstate 405 South to State Route 167 were usually slow at this time of day. Beginning about 2pm, traffic on any major roadways in and around Seattle are equivalent to the cholesterol clogged arteries of anyone on a steady diet of biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast, McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese and fries for lunch, and Pizza Hut for dinner. Within a half mile of pulling onto 167, I was bound the shoulder because I could no longer see the road through my tears.
Rewind about two hours… I was just finishing class for the day at Northwest Bible College when I heard about Darrell, a local pastor who I idolized, thought was a great example of someone who knew and followed God, and someone I had no idea what was really going on in the darkest corners of his life. Darrell flushed his vows when he left his wife, family and church to find solace in the arms of another woman: the church secretary. Rewind another year and you’ll discover another idolized pastor, named Robert, who’s erring decision involved not the church secretary, but the church piano player.
I was devastated; sitting on the shoulder in my 1984 Subaru Brat trying to convince myself it was worth driving another foot further. It was Wednesday and we had youth group at the church where I was a youth ministry intern. I usually arrived at the church around 3pm to set up, connect with students and get ready for the night. However, today I wasn’t going to make it by 3pm. And, I didn’t make it by 4pm. I literally sat on the road for a couple of hours praying, asking questions and making life long resolves.
One of the questions I asked: How does a guy walk away after standing at an altar – before God, a pastor, a soon-to-be bride and a gathered audience – and make vows that 20 years later seemingly mean nothing? The only answer I could come up with then and still today is this: One day at a time. The adverse question gets the same answer: How does a guy remain faithful to his God, wife, family and church – even after 20+ years of marriage? The answer: One day at a time.
An affair. It begins with little lapses of judgment – things thought to be harmless plant the seeds of demise. Every decision changes the trajectory of our lives until one day we stand at the point of folly; a leap we’ve been preparing to make for a long time. Then, in a moment of self-described weakness, life is forever altered. Everything is ruined. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t get the benefit of the “weakness card”. You’ve purposed in your heart to go there as soon as the right situation presented itself. Sin always results in death. In this case, it’s the death of your moral authority, potentially your family and any aspirations you had professionally. The consequences are the same for the church as in the marketplace; your choice brings more change than you planned for. It’s time to start looking for moving boxes.
One day at a time. What if we decided – one day at a time – to remain pure, faithful and forthright? That’s what I decided over 25 years ago on the side of the road near Renton, Washington. Over the last couple of decades I have been developing a system to help me keep short accounts with my character, resolve and relationship with God and others. I call this system, My Personal Development. Next week, I’ll share with you the details of this system.
Until then, check the trajectory of your life. Where are you headed? If traversing down a dark path, stop and turn around. On many levels, you cannot afford the damage, pain and death that moral destruction brings. What you’re deciding to do is decidedly not worth it. Stop and turn around.
Oh how true. I look forward to hearing more of your resolve on this. It makes me think of the “plumbline” – the vertical measurement. One degree off today will eventually become a major error. It is the little decisions in every day life that determines our future. What expense will we go to in staying pure? What are we willing to sacrifice to set ourselves apart? Sadly, many times, our steps of purity are even met with resistance in the church. “Be holy as I am holy” (Lev. 11). If we plan on striving to meet this standard we CANNOT look like the world!