There is a sign at a junction on an Alaskan highway that reads “CHOOSE YOUR RUT CAREFULLY, YOU WILL BE IN IT FOR THE NEXT 50 MILES.” I remember talking with a ministerial colleague about the opening of their new worship centre. He remarked on how people had difficulty on entering the building, as their traditional seats were no longer available. He commented how interesting it was to watch people walking around trying to decide where they were going to sit for the next twenty years!”
We are people of habit. It is the routines and familiar which enable us to keep up with the ordinary functions of life. Regular meal times, sleep times, recreational routines and social schedules are all helpful in assisting the maintenance of a balanced lifestyle. But unless we are careful, these habits become a rut which carry us along unwittingly.
As a younger driver, I was always focussed on reaching the destination, usually in as quick a time as I could manage. Stops were always a bug-bear. Detours were a frustration. Delays frustrating. But in more recent years I have discovered the joy of the detour, the enrichment of the diversion. In other words, I have discovered the value of getting out of the rut.
For each of us, there needs to be found some balance between the routine and the unexpected. Between the rut and the diversion. It is the balance between discipline and spontaneity which gives life its sparkle. If we stick in the rut, we are bound to boredom; if we continually take the diversions which are on offer, we are in danger of losing our general direction.
It is easier early in the year to make these choices: as the sign on the road intimates, once the journey is under way, the chances for change are diminished.
Which ruts have you chosen to begin the year? The same as always, or ones which allow the possibility to explore the byways which the wind of the Spirit occasionally invite us to explore? To switch metaphors for a moment: are our sails set to catch the different winds which the Spirit might bring to us?
February 13, 2000
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