Take the Beach Road

On the Outer Banks in North Carolina, there are two main roads for traveling north to south. Highway 12 (a small two-lane road known as the Beach Road) runs parallel to the ocean and is a picturesque route featuring rustic beach cottages, small mom-and-pop venues, beach access points, sea oats, and stunning ocean views. The Bypass (Highway 158) runs parallel to the beach road and features five lanes of rushing traffic, crowded strip malls, touristy establishments, too many traffic lights, grocery stores, and more chain drug stores than you would think a place with such a small permanent population would require.

The speed limit on the Beach Road is 35 and on the Bypass it is 50. (Unless it is a crowded Saturday in the summer, in which case the functional speed on both roads is 35 or under.) That is when locals turn to one another with a confidence born of experience and say, “Take the Beach Road.” Local wisdom figures that if 35 is the fastest you will be able to go anyway, you might as well enjoy the view.

Actually, there are many reasons to take the Beach Road. The charm, the salty ocean breeze, the views, and the sound of waves crashing on the shore all serve to calm the spirit and refresh the soul. And you won’t encounter people not knowing how to navigate the tricky middle turn lane as you would on the Bypass.

“Take the Beach Road” has become a metaphor for making life choices that slow down your pace, help you to breathe, focus your attention on the glory around you, and relax.

You remember how to relax, don’t you??

In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he addresses a choice that they are facing. Will they continue to live under the law of Moses, with its multiple red lights, its complicated turn lanes, and its lack of freedom, or will they choose the glory of the Beach Road that is freedom in Christ Jesus?

2 Corinthians 3 (Common English Bible)

12 So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. 13 We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were closed. Right up to the present day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil is not removed because it is taken away by Christ. 15 Even today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 

The law of Moses can only take you so far. But when the veil of that law is removed, freedom of movement is available through the opening of the veil by Christ’s actions on the cross. Remember when the curtain in the Temple was torn in two pieces from top to bottom at Jesus’ death? Come on in.

You can be forgiven.

You can be redeemed.

You can move forward in hope and confidence.

16 But whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Through repentance and confession, we are invited to turn back to the Lord and experience the glory of forgiveness and redemption. And so we never need to be discouraged, because mercy is always just ahead at the next intersection.

4 This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth.

Whatever road you are on right now, don’t get discouraged. Take a moment to breathe. You can find hope in the Spirit and have confidence that if you are staying in a lane that leads to Jesus, you are on the right road. And if life’s troubles and complications have you exhausted today, pause for a moment, breathe deeply, and take the Beach Road.

Just Breathe by Michelle Robertson

Total Commitment

College football recruitment has been underway for months, and it has been fun to watch fans react to their team’s successes and failures. Did you know that there is an intricate system for ranking potential players and teams? At the end of the recruitment season, somebody actually comes out as the number one team for commitments. The savvy players have figured out how to use social and conventional media to spin their eventual commitment. I saw an elaborately designed graphic of a player wearing the uniforms of the two schools who were heavily recruiting him. The headline read “Which Will He Choose?” The spin was on.

I can’t imagine the pressure these young eighteen-year-olds feel when making this life-defining choice. It isn’t just about playing a game….this one decision truly sets their academic and professional careers on course for the rest of their lives.

Adulting involves making a lot of choices, doesn’t it? A wrong choice early on can take a long time to correct. Do you regret any of the choices you made in your younger years? I know I do.

But one choice I have never regretted is the choice to follow Jesus. I made this decision at the tender age of eleven when I attended something called a Lay Witness Weekend at my church. It was a weekend of activities, speakers, worship experiences, pot luck suppers (I am Methodist, after all!), and prayer. At the end of the weekend, I walked the aisle and gave my life to the Lord during an altar call. I have never looked back.

In our scripture this morning, Joshua brought the exhausted people of Israel to a place in the Promised Land called Shechem. It was time for them to commit:

Joshua 24 (The Message)

24 1-2 Joshua called together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called in the elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God. Then Joshua addressed all the people:

2-6 “This is what God, the God of Israel, says: A long time ago your ancestors, Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor, lived to the east of the River Euphrates. They worshiped other gods. I took your ancestor Abraham from the far side of The River. I led him all over the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac. Then I gave Isaac Jacob and Esau. I let Esau have the mountains of Seir as home, but Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron. I hit Egypt hard with plagues and then led you out of there. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. You came to the sea, the Egyptians in hot pursuit with chariots and cavalry, to the very edge of the Red Sea!

Joshua presented them with a concise history lesson on their relationship with God, emphasizing God’s saving actions on their behalf. He reminded them that provisions and people were given to them for centuries, and God’s actions on Israel’s behalf brought them to this very spot today.

14 “So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.

15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

Joshua makes his case very plainly. He is direct and to the point: chose God who saved you, or worship the neighborhood gods. But in any case, CHOOSE.

16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods.

17-18 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.

If you recall your Bible history, you will remember that this commitment did not last long. God tried to soothe them with judges and kings, but the people proved to be unmanageable…and eventually, God sent Jesus.

“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”

Today is a good day to contemplate your own commitment to the Lord. Is HE your God, or do you serve other gods? Is there anything you have put on the throne in his place? Consider how you spend your time, talent, resources, and attention. Do your choices bring you closer to God, or do they have nothing to do with him?

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Choose This Day by Michelle Robertson