In Ireland, there are different designations within the road system. Numbered routes are preceded by a letter, which tell you what they are – something like the following:
- M – motorways
- N – national routes
- R – regional roads
- L – local roads
Yesterday, my family and I drove out across the country, heading to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. We started on an “N” road. This was a six-lane expressway built for high speed and efficiency across the landscape. Later, we transitioned to an “M” road and then to another. This was even better for quick transit, with wide lanes and a speed limit of 120 km/hr! We were making fast work of the journey from one coast to the other.
Soon enough, however, we found ourselves on a two-lane highway, striking out between fields and across vales. This was still an “N” route, but it was somehow much different from the road on which we had started our journey. And, compared to the relative ease of the “M”, this felt much harder. As rookies to the left-side driving in this country, we were suddenly more aware of the difference. Narrow lanes. Not much shoulder to speak of. Very little margin for error, at least in my estimation!
As we went on, the road became even more narrow, more winding, and more desolate. Instead of alternating between fourth and fifth gear, we were creeping around curves and up grades in second gear – third if lucky! Rock walls closely bordered the roadway, giving heightened anxiety to every maneuver. The comfort level from earlier in the day was all but forgotten.
But then, after many kilometers on the two-lane road, it opened up. There was no longer a rock wall, which made the lanes feel wider already. But there was also a bit of a shoulder on either side. Now, bear in mind, this was probably about the same as the first road after we had left the motorway, but now it somehow felt more comfortable, more accessible. The perspective of going on the harder road made the less-easy road feel very welcome to these now-weary travelers.
How often is this like life? We see something that seems hard, go through something harder, and then suddenly the first situation doesn’t seem so bad? Or, we see something that, from far off, seems insurmountable, and then we see that it’s not as bad as we had feared?
Check out Romans 5:3-5, which seems counter-intuitive at the start, but makes sense in this context:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Ultimately, it’s not the circumstance, the perspective, nor even the tribulation itself that causes all of these good things. It is, as the last verse points to, the love of God that brings about the hope in us. Whatever kind of road we find ourselves traveling, we can have confidence that God is using it to prepare us for what is to come. And all of this is His design, for His glory, so we all need to let it unfold as He designs.
Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure
How about you? What kind of road are you on?
(PS, the title of this post is with all respect to Andy Irvine.)