The average American drives over 13,500 miles per year. I’m not sure if that number surprises you, whether it seems low or high to you. What I do know is that I do my part to keep that average up, and what I also know is that I never find myself shocked or surprised when I arrive at my intended destination. Whether it’s a quick trip across town or a trip across the commonwealth or the country, the number of miles we drive tells us something. We wouldn’t put in all those miles every year unless we expected that driving the right roads would take us where we want to go.
Maybe this all seems plainly obvious, and I’ll confess that it does seem that way–at least when it comes to getting in the car and going for a drive. Where it’s less obvious is in other areas of our lives, where pride and sin act like a fog that obscures the final destination of the road we are traveling. As we read Judges and then 1 Samuel from the advantaged perspective of God’s revealed word, it’s like we’re watching the aerial view of the people of Israel barreling down the path of idolatry. So, it isn’t really all that surprising when they finally put into words what their lives have been saying for years–that they wanted to be like the nations around them instead of to be the holy people God called them to be. They’ve been on this road now for a while, so without a change in direction, it was a matter of when–not if–they would arrive at this place.
And yet, even though he knew the road they were on, we find Samuel to be displeased and grieved at the dangerous request of the people, and as the Lord responds to Samuel, we hear much of the same, “According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.” This is who they were. This is where they’ve been headed. It was clear if you were looking at the map or the signs but not if you were only looking at the next step before you. So, even as Samuel warns the people about the cost of choosing the wrong king and rejecting God as ruler over them, they persisted on the path of self-destruction.
When we log a lot of miles on a long trip, it’s good to stop every so often to check the engine, the tires, and even the map, and this year has definitely been a long trip. So let’s stop today to check our hearts and our lives. Who or what is on the throne of your heart? Is your life headed in the right direction? The good news is that no matter how far down the road we’ve gone, our God is able to repair our hearts and ready for us to return home.