Andy Stanley - Rules for the Road: 5 Rules to Get You Anywhere in Life
Today's message is entitled as I mentioned, "Rules for the Road, Rules for the Road," five tips, five tips to ensure that you reach your destination safely. But of course my real intent in this message is to take these road rules or rules for the road and apply them to our daily lives. Because Tom Cochrane, who actually wrote that song, is exactly right. The beginning of the song says this, life is like a road you're on. Life is like a road that you travel on, when there's one day here and the next day gone. We only get to live each day one time.
But the road of life or the adventure of life is actually more complicated than a highway because we are all born or we come equipped with rear view mirrors. What we don't come equipped with is a reverse, right? There are no do overs. You only get to do your 20s once. And you look in the rear view mirror and you see how you did your 20s and you're like, I would like to go back and do some of that. And then you look, and it's just park and it's drive. And park is only momentary, right? But we just can't go back. You can't go back and redo your 30s or that first marriage, or raise your kids again or raise that first child again, 'cause the third one came along and you thought, I think I kind of overloaded the first one.
So we all have regrets because we all have a rear view mirror, but there are no reverses. And some of us if we're honest it's temperament personality, we spend a way too much time looking in the rear view mirror of our lives and obsessing on our regrets. But the truth is the future from this moment forward is like a road we're on and it's what we do from this point forward that makes all the difference. And of course we can learn from our mistakes, but you can't live your life looking in the rear view mirror, just like you shouldn't drive looking in the rear view mirror and especially with life. Because again, there's just no way to go back. And this is what we all have in common, whether you're a person of faith or not a person of faith.
We all wanna get the future right. We just all wanna get it right. And we all wanna arrive safely in some destination. And you may be a goal. Somebody sets a lot of goals. I'm not really set a lot of goals. I have some sort of high level goals that I keep little bulletin board in my closet that deal with my family. And just a couple of high-level things. Some of you are very detailed goal setters, but everybody, everybody listening, everybody in the rooms, you can stand up and say, okay, at a high level, here's what I want my future to look like. Here's what I want my future to look like relationally, financially, with my kids or hopefully when I have kids one day or wanna get remarried, whatever it might be.
So we all kind of have a general idea of where we wanna end up in this season of life and where we wanna end up in life in general. And hopefully these five rules will help you get there. So five rules for the road. I'm gonna do this pretty quick. All super practical. Just a heads up, if you came today looking for deep, deep, deep Bible study, we just did that for nine weeks, okay? So this is just a summation of just some practical things that help us move forward with life.
So rule number one, rule number one, don't travel alone, don't travel alone. We say this all the time around here, that life is better connected because you were made for community. That life is better connected because you were made for community so you travel with friends. You just don't allow yourself to get isolated. And in certain seasons of life, because of the pain and the things that we've gone through, and again, personality, there's always the temptation to be a little bit isolated. So I wanna encourage you to ignore that voice in your head, ignore that voice in your head that says, I don't need anybody because you were created to live in and to operate in community. You do need some bodies around you. We were created for that, but who we do life with oftentimes determines how our lives go, right?
And one of the tricks, then one of the things that, again, I'm gonna put some language around something we've all experienced from time to time. The trick in life when it comes to who we do life with is don't simply gravitate toward acceptance. Don't simply gravitate toward acceptance. Acceptance is a powerful, powerful draw, right? But don't simply gravitate toward acceptance because that can be a trap. Acceptance is magnetic and where this is most important is in the transitions of life. You're leaving high school to go to college. You're leaving college to go to grad school. You're leaving grad school to start your first job. You're leaving the city to go to another city. You've just gotten out of a relationship and you're looking for a new relationship. You've just gone through a divorce. You kind of hit pause for a couple of years, and now you're open to start dating again.
And every single transition in life, and every single transition in life, especially relationally, we are prone to gravitate toward acceptance. That is the person or the people that accept us first oftentimes without giving much thought to it become the people that we spend a season of life with. And again, if you've raised teenagers, you know how powerful this is. Again, if you changed schools or you went to a new job and you walk in that first day and you don't know anyone, or you come to a new city, you don't know anyone, or you come to a new church and you don't know anyone, isn't it true that the first group of people who reach out to you and extend some sort of invitation to do something, invitation to travel, invitation to participate in something, it feels so good because you don't know anyone else.
And before you know it, you are doing life with people who may not be anything like you, who you normally wouldn't even necessarily like, but because they accepted you, I mean we are all acceptance magnets and we all just flow toward acceptance. So when it comes to who you do life with, don't simply give into the magnetic draw of the person or the first group of people who show up and extend an invitation. Even though they probably may be great people and as sincere as they could possibly be. Because the people who get on the inside of our lives often determine the direction and the quality of our lives. And don't simply be content. This is so important. Don't simply be content to do life with people who share your tastes. And oftentimes the connecting point is tastes. We like the same music. We like the same restaurants. We're in the same generation. We're from the same part of the country where we share certain tastes.
Look for people, this is so important, especially in the transitions. Look for people who share your values. You know what a value is. A value is what you have predetermined is most important to you. There are things that are most important to you, and when you find people and sometimes you kinda gotta move through some groups of people, good people, wonderful people, just not the right people. When you can find people that you share your values with, they had the same values that you have, even though they may not eat at the same restaurants or go to the same concerts. When you are able to do life, begin to do life with people who share your values, they will have your back. You will have their back. And there is a synergy of values that will ensure that at the end of this season of life, that you will still be prioritized around the things that you have decided are most important in life and most important for you. And you'll get the most out of life. You'll get what you want most out of life.
And again, who we do life with, who we travel with, often determines the direction and the quality of our lives. In fact, if you have children at any of our ministry environments, one of the principles that we come back to with children, middle school and high school over and over and over is this statement. Your friends determine the direction and the quality of your life. Your friends determine the direction and the quality of our lives. Or to put it within this context, our friends determine the direction and the quality of the trip. So who we surround ourselves with, who we do life with is so extraordinarily, extraordinarily important. And this is not to say, and if you've been a part of what we do for a long time, you won't misunderstand me.
But if you're new, I wanna make sure you don't. We're not saying that anyone is unimportant. We're not saying that anyone is less important. What I'm saying is this, when it comes to that inner circle, who you're traveling through life with, surround yourself with people that embrace your values. The author of Proverbs said it this way. And again, this is one of the anchor verses for children in middle school and high school students in all of our ministries. The author of Proverbs wrote this. Whoever walks, does life with the wise, automatically over time becomes wise. And wisdom, we talk about this all the time. Wisdom is understanding and living as if life is connected. That what happens today impacts tomorrow, that what happened yesterday is gonna show up in my life today, that life is connected.
And so the author of Proverbs says this. When we do life with, when we walk in life with, when we do life with people who are wise, who understand that life is connected, that I've gotta be disciplined in this season because of what I want in the next season, you become wise. But then there's a contrast because the literate Proverbs, literature always has this contrast, sometimes two, sometimes three, but the companion of a fool, and this is so interesting. The companion of a fool, and a fool, Proverbs literature or literature that's primarily Proverbs, there's a specific definition for a fool. A fool is someone who lives live without care or who is careless. That's like, this is what I'm gonna do today. Yeah, but how's that gonna impact you tomorrow?
Well, that's tomorrow, this is today, life is disconnected. The companion of fools... And it's interesting. He doesn't say the companion of fools will become a fool. I mean, walk with the wise, you will become wise. The companion of fools doesn't necessarily become a fool. This is why giving into the gravitational pool of a group of people can be so dangerous if we're not careful. The companion of fools may never become a fool, but the companion of fools will suffer the same consequence as a fool because that's who they're traveling with. That's who you're traveling with. So bottom line is kind of this. Travel with people who are taking care of themselves, because if they're taking care of themselves, they will help you take care of yourself and you will help them take care of themselves as well. So don't travel alone.
Now rule number two is kind of an offshoot of rule number one. Rule number two is simply this: don't pick up strangers. Don't pick up strangers. Now I need to define stranger, okay? A stranger is someone who is strange. That's what a stranger is. Or now, honestly, we're all a little bit of strange, a little bit strange to somebody, right? Let's just say someone who is stranger than you, okay. That's what I mean by a stranger. My mom who passed away a few years ago was very, very outgoing. My dad, not so much outgoing. And my mom, wherever she went, she would just meet people. And she was very friendly. She would begin conversations with people in line. She would begin conversations with strangers all the time, and this would kind of get on my dad's nerve.
And he would say to her, this was kind of one of their things. How your parents had like a thing, this was one of their things. He would say, "Annie," her name was Anna Margaret. He called her Annie, he said, "Annie, don't talk to strangers". I can remember here my dad says, "Annie, don't talk to strangers". And my mom would say, "Well, after I meet them, they're not strangers anymore". So my mom is literally a person who never met a what? She never met a stranger because she was so outgoing and which was a great trait. So what I'm not saying, I'm not saying, don't meet people and don't be friendly, okay.
And the reason I tell you that story is this part of the story. When I was in college, she flew to North Carolina to spend some time with her mom. When she came back, I'll never forget. We're kind of gathered down in the kitchen. And she said, she put her hands on her hip. She said, "Well, I finally met a stranger". And what had happened as she was flying back and she was sitting next to a guy and he had had a little bit too much to drink, and I'll just leave it there. She finally met a stranger, but it was so funny to hear her say that because it wasn't like she didn't have guardrails. It wasn't like she wasn't dialed in that there's just some people in the world that you just need to be careful around. She was super friendly, but she understood at some point, there's a, you know what? I can't travel with you.
So bottom line on this one is simply this. Be kind, that's a fruit of the spirit. Be kind but be careful. Careful of who you allow in your vehicle. Careful about who you allow in the inner circle of your life. We are kind to everyone. We are patient with everyone. We're compassionate and generous with everyone, but be careful who you allow in the inner circle, because it goes back to rule number one. He who walks with the wise goes wise, the companion of fools. You may never be a fool, but if you're too close to the people who aren't living life according to your values, when something happens to them it may happen to you as well.
So I wanna just kinda ask this question as we move on. Do you have any strangers in your life? Do you have any strangers you've allowed into the inner circle? And let me tease that out a little bit. Is there any one you're doing life with if you're real honest that they make you less healthy, they cause you to doubt yourself. They seem to always be slowly and maybe suddenly chipping away at your values. They're kind of dismissive of your values. And at times you're almost intimidated to be yourself because of how they're gonna respond. In fact, over time, you have found yourself becoming a different person when you're around that person. That is a stranger and you need it to drop them off. God loves them. You can't handle them. God loves them because...
And I used to teach this principle to high school students and college students all the time. They'd be like, yeah but God loves everybody and blah, blah, blah, hey, wait, hold on, come here. Look, God loves them. You can't handle them. Maybe someday you will be able to handle a person like that. But if you, if your life is being bent and moved and drawn in a direction that creates tension on the inside, dings your conscience, you find yourself doing things you never intended to do. You find yourself drifting from your values. You find yourself being dishonest with another group of people because again suddenly you find yourself, there's just too much duplicity. You're kind of living two different lives, that's a stranger. And you need to drop them off.
And there's nothing more difficult perhaps than ending what seems to be a friendship or a relationship. But for the sake of that other person who needs someone else in their life to perhaps bring them back to a sense of balance in terms of life in general or perhaps faith, for their sake, for your sake, you might need to drop them off. Go back to the car thing for a second. You would not repeatedly loan your car to someone who repeatedly trashed it. So don't loan yourself to someone who repeatedly trashes you, okay. So that's rule number two. You got so quiet on that one, so intense.
Okay, rule number three. You say, "Andy, I thought this was supposed to be fun". It's kind of fun. Okay, rule, number three is this. I want you to choose, when you're traveling, right, you choose a destination. You don't just travel, right? You choose a destination and borrow a map. This is kind of a two-part thing. Choose a destination and borrow a map. Here's what I mean by choose a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. I mean, goals, no goals. Destination in mind, no destination. Time just goes by. And if you've got the health to endear your 30s and your 40s, your 50s, your 60s, your 70s, your 80s, your 90s, maybe you become a centenarian, you live to be a hundred years old, everybody ends up somewhere in life. The when, just humanly speaking, and the when in terms of being a Jesus follower, the when is to end up somewhere on purpose, right? And just as on a long road trip, there are multiple legs.
The first day, we went here, second day, we went there, third day here, stay two days there, fourth day. Just that there are multiple legs on a road trip, there are multiple seasons in life, right? Multiple seasons in life. And it is so important in each season of life to determine your destination in that season. Now you've all already done this. We've already done this. I mean, you got in elementary school, your parents said your destination is to get out of fifth grade and to get into middle school. So they said like, okay, you got out fifth grade, middle school. Then you got into middle school and your parents said, and you decided I'm getting out of middle school. My destination is gonna be to show up the correct fall in ninth grade.
So this whole idea of setting a destination for each season, we grow up with some sort of a paradigm or a template that teaches us that. But once we get out into the work world and the job world, it's easy to lose sight of the fact there are still seasons of life. There's single season and there's married season and maybe first marriage. And there's a gap in the second marriage and there's kids and there's grandkids. I mean, there's all these seasons. In each season of life, you need to choose some vague or general or maybe specific sense of a destination. It's important to choose that in each life. Determine, essentially determine what you want your life to look like in each season or in this season.
Here's why, again, this is so important. Obviously you don't wanna drift. Nobody wants to drift. And if we don't decide, here's the thing. If we don't choose what we want this season to look like or what we want to look like at the end of the season, if we don't choose, circumstances and people and life in general, they just decide for us because the days keep clicking by. The days keep... Life is a highway, another day, another day, another day, rear view mirror. Oh, oh, no, reverse, another day, another day, another day. So why wouldn't we just decide? Because again, life is connected. This season leads to the next. If I don't set the correct destination for this season, I won't be prepared for the next one.
This is what wisdom dictates that I am thinking about this season, not simply in light of what's right ahead of me, but right in front of me, but ultimately what's ahead of me because one season leads to the other. Each season builds on the other, right? And you know this: wishing won't get you there. Someday I wanna meet someone. Someday I'd like to be happily married. Someday I'd like to have kids. Wishing won't get you there, right? Someday I wanna be successful financially. Someday I wanna get good at graduate school. Someday, someday, someday. That's a wish, that's not a plan. It goes back to what I call the principle of the path.
We've talked about this in the past, that direction, direction, not intention, determines our destination. This is true when you're driving. This is true when you're living. It's the direction, not the intention that determines your destination, okay? You can drive north with the intention of going to Key West. You will never get to Key West. I don't care what your intentions are, right? You can intend and you can pray and you can trust God and you will end up in Canada, okay? Intention is almost irrelevant. Intention should lead us quickly to some sense of direction. So in every season of life, in every season of life, we need to choose what the destination is. Not for our entire lives, but for the season, because the seasons are connected. And if we're not prepared for the next season in this season, then when we get to the next season, well, duh, we're just not prepared.
Again, it goes, I mentioned this a minute ago. You only get to do your 20s one time. You only get to do your 30s one time. You only get to do your 40s one time. You only get to do a first marriage one time. You only get to do the raising that son of yours just one time. And again, you be better prepared for the second or the third child but that first one, I mean, that daughter, we only get to do this one time. Again, two rear view mirrors, no reverse.
My dad had sort of a version of this same statement that he had in his office. I don't know if he made it up or he found it somewhere, but as a kid, you remember things in your house. And this is one of the things I remember, little plaque that said this, discipline. "Discipline, not desire, determines our destiny". And do you know what discipline is? Discipline is in this season, in this season, I wanna make sure I'm disciplined enough in this season to prepare myself for the next season, because life is a highway and there's another destination. And there's another destination coming down the road. Decide now so that when you get to the end of this season, you'll look back on what you need to look back on to, ensure that you're ready for the next season.
When Sandra and I had little kids, I mean, they're all this little and smaller. At one point, we had three in diapers for about a minute. And then Sandra didn't like me to tell that story. But anyway, our oldest, we just decided you're potty trained and we just kinda moved on and... He eventually was, but you just can't. I mean, three in diapers, it's just too much. And that season, it's so busy, like I need to tell you that. It's just there's just stuff coming and going. There's always more opportunities than time and there's always more friends than time and there's always more hobbies than time. And so we just decided in that season, we came up with a list. We called it our no-for-now, but-not-forever list. No-for-now, but-not-forever list. In other words, here are some categories of things we're just not gonna do. We're not gonna, next Thursday, can you do this? Let me check the calendar, that just drives you crazy. We just decided there are some categories.
I'm not gonna tell you what they were because you gotta come up with your own categories, but sometimes in a season of life because of what you want to accomplish and because of what's most important in that season, you just have to prioritize and say, you know what? This is not a bad thing. This is just a no thing for now. And then when we get through this season, it's a yes. No for now, but not no forever. Those are the kinds of decisions you make once you've decided what is most critical in this season of my life? When you're in school, you gotta do that. When you're starting a new job, you gotta do that. When you're beginning a new relationship, you've gotta do that. When you're beginning a new marriage, you have to do that. When you raise your kids. No for now, but not forever. Because what, because of the destination I've determined for myself in this season of life.
Now the second part of this is borrow a map. And here's what I mean by that. Somebody has already been to where you're hoping to arrive, right? I mean, somebody has already been there. They'd been there and they've done that and they've done it poorly, or they've done it well, but somebody has traveled this road before. And here's the thing, and this is kind of insulting. But when you transition into a new season of life, you don't know what you're doing. How could you? You've never done it before. I mean, the ultimate example of that is... We had our first child and we stayed a couple nights in the hospital and the nurse comes in and says those awful things. This is what she said. She said, she smiled when she said it, but it was terrible. She said, Mr. Stanley, if you'll pull the car around to the front entrance of the hospital, I'll bring Mrs. Stanley down and Andrew, and you can go home.
I thought, by ourselves? I don't even know how to change a flat tire. You're sending me home with a baby, right? Would you come home... Is there anyone who could come home with us? I mean, do you remember this is like, I don't know what I'm doing. Well, in other seasons of life, we just think we know what we're doing, but how could we possibly know? Every season of life is different. So the wisest thing you could do is find somebody and borrow their map. Another illustration right now, our small group, our community group, we've all been married 30 to 33 years, everybody in our community group. And so it's hard to decide what are we gonna study? And you know what the felt need was? The felt need was how do we parent adult children?
Now, for some of you, you're thinking, is that even a thing? It's a thing, isn't it? All of you parenting adult children. Isn't that a thing? It's like, you're saying, I thought parenting ended when they went off to a job or off to college. No, it's just another season of parenting. So we don't know what we're doing. And after our first couple of meetings as a small group on this topic, we realized we don't know what we're doing. And we found a book. Somebody has written a book on how to parent adult kids, like kids who have left home and are getting married. And so that's what we're studying. You know why? 'Cause we don't know what we're doing. But somebody has written a map and somebody has investigated. And this is what I'm talking about. You need to find somebody's map, okay.
And the other way to do this is you know some people who've kind of down the road from you and sort of accomplished what you hope to accomplish either professionally or academically or maybe marriage and family. And here's my suggestion. You get their email address and you email them and you don't say, will you mentor me? Don't ever ask anyone to mentor you, okay? You send them three questions. You say, you know what, my wife and I, or hey, I've just got into this new job. Or I've just moved to the city or whatever. And I have three questions. Here's the three questions. Would you meet me for coffee or I'll buy you dinner if you'll just answer these three questions. And essentially what you're saying is I want your map. Then don't say I want your map 'cause they're like, what? Okay, so they'll think you're just a stranger. And then we already covered that, okay. They'll think you're strange.
So this is your way of saying, tell me what you know. And here's the thing about people who are a season ahead of you in life. And I'm a season ahead of some of you. We don't know how much we know until someone ask. We have small groups with young married couples or newlywed couples. And it is so fun as somebody who's been married a long time to drop into one of those groups 'cause you show up. And what Sandra and I spent a whole year one time, instead of doing our own small group, we just went from group to group to group with the young married couples. And in the first couple times, well, the first time we were like, so scared, like, oh, what are they gonna ask? And we got in the car afterwards. We thought, we know a lot. We just know a lot. You just don't know what you know, until somebody who doesn't know begins to ask you questions, okay?
So one of the best things you can do is you can reach ahead a generation and say, hey, show me your map, show me your map. You might be familiar with what's called the Vernon Law. You may have heard this before, even though you didn't know it was called this. Here's what the Vernon Law is. That experience is a hard teacher because it gives the test first and the lesson afterwards. Experience is a hard teacher because, oh no, I failed the test and now I realize what I should have known. The only way to avoid this is to get ahead and invite information authors or people into your life in this season so when the test comes, you will already have had the lesson and acknowledging... Come on, you know this. Acknowledging what you don't know, and inviting somebody into that space where you just aren't exactly sure, that's not weakness.
Asking for help isn't weakness, it's maturity. It's a sign of wisdom. Again, the author of Proverbs puts it this way. Listen, he says, listen to counsel, listen to counsel. Now don't raise your hand or elbow anybody. But some of us guys, it is so hard to take counsel from other people. It's an ego thing, it's a pride thing. I am as guilty as anybody else. I just have to, just exhale, don't bow up, don't power up. Don't say, you want me to tell you what I you know? Just shut up Andy and just listen. Listen to counsel and accept discipline. You know what this means? It means accept the fact that you're wrong.
If you don't accept the fact that you're wrong, you will continue to be what? Wrong, right. My goal in life is to never learn anything new and oh, no. Nobody wants to end up there. So he says, listen to counsel, accept discipline, that you may be wise and listen to this proverbial promise. You'll be wise the rest of your days. Here's what that means. You'll be wise in this season and prepare in such a way that you're ready for the next season. You'll be wise for the rest of your days, because if the pattern, this is a pattern and a habit, if the pattern and the habit of your life is to be open to the counsel and the wisdom of others, even people who aren't as smart as you, even people who aren't as accomplished as you, even people who aren't as successful as you, and even people who aren't as educated as you.
I just covered all the reasons that many of us are like, oh I can't listen, oh I can't listen. What have they ever accomplished? Well, wait, wait, what? He says, just listen to counsel and you'll be wise for the rest of your days. So choose a destination and this leg of the journey or in this season and borrow a map and perhaps you'll get where you're going with... Boy, you'll get there faster and with less regret.
Rule number four, gotta keep going. Rule number four, pay attention to the signs. Pay attention to the signs. Okay, road signs are there for our protection as well as our direction. Many of us, some of us, some of you think that those signs are for other people, right? Those are for what other people need to do. I don't need to slow down the car, I'm a good driver. Yellow light, that means speed up, right. So I can get through the intersection. And then when we see other drivers ignore those signs, what do we think? Idiot, putting other people's lives at risk. Sometimes it's hard to see the idiot in the mirror, right? And the same is true in life for all of us, right?
Again, the author of Proverbs, and this is a verse I've encouraged you to memorize. I hope you've memorized it. If not, you gotta memorize this verse. Maybe I just feel compelled to say that because of the role it's played in my life. The prudent, the wise, the people who know that life's connected. The prudent see the signs and they respond. The prudent see danger and they take refuge. The prudent see the signs and they respond to the signs. Wise people pay attention to the signs, the signs of what's going on with their friends and paying attention to what I see going on with my kids. And I'm paying attention to some stuff I see going on with my marriage.
And you know what? I'm paying attention to what I see going on financially. We're not in trouble yet, but you know what? I need to slow down in that curve. I see what's going on professionally. I'm not gonna just live in La La land and pretend everything's fine. I'm gonna pay attention to the signs. It's always tempting to ignore signs. It is most tempting to ignore signs relationally. But relationships are like a combustible engine, nothing improves with neglect. But one of the reasons we ignore the signs in our relationships honestly, is we don't know what to do. I can fix my router. I can fix a lot of things electronically. I like to fix things. When it comes to relationships, it's like, I don't know what to do.
So I'm just gonna go reboot my internet 'cause I know how to do that. But relationally, I don't know. So we just, we are attempted to ignore the signs, but nothing improves with neglect, especially relationships. So again, you may hate me for this, but if more than one person, if more than one person has brought something to your attention that you need to think about or work on, that's a sign. If more than one person and they don't even know each other, it's like they've been talking. No, you're the common denominator. It is obvious, not obvious to you, but it's obvious to everybody. If more than one person has brought to your attention something that you need to pay attention to, that's a sign.
The only time I ever was arrested... Pause, let you digest that. It's a long time ago. Only time I was ever arrested is not that I ignored a sign, I actually moved a sign 'cause it was in my way. I was 16 years old, I'm like, that's in my way. So I got out of my car and moved a sign and then I got where I was going late, really, really late and had an interesting conversation with my dad.
So the point is have you ever moved a sign? Let me tell you what move a sign looks like or sounds like in the real world. Do you ever heard yourself say this? Okay, don't ever bring that up again. I just wanna take that sign off my road. Honey, son, mom, whoever, don't ever, or I don't wanna hear that anymore. I don't wanna hear about that anymore or I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. Quit showing me signs, I'm fine.
What do you respond to in that way? You're ignoring the signs. You keep ignoring the signs, you're taking the long way, taking the wrong way. You may never arrive. Because the prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple, I'm fine, I know everything I need to know, you're wrong. The simple, the people that don't understand life is connected, that today leads to tomorrow and today is gonna show up tomorrow. The simple keep going, and they pay the penalty. But you won't be the only one who pays because everybody is looking to you, responsible, that you're responsible for, that depends on you. They're gonna pay as well. So pay attention, pay attention to the signs.
Last but not least, the fifth and final one. This is kind of the heaviest one, but I think it's maybe the most important in terms of getting to where we wanna get in life and ultimately getting to where your heavenly father wants you to get in life. The fifth and final one is this: don't carry unnecessary baggage. If you carry too much baggage on a trip, it just slows you down, right, just weighs you down. Years ago, Sandra and I were traveling with these dear friends of ours, Howard and Doris. And we've traveled, most of our trips outside the country, we've gone with Howard and Doris, they're just our travel buddies and they love to travel, love the same kind of stuff. And so we were standing at Hartsfield behind the counter and we were putting our luggage up on the scale thing. And so Sandra had her back to the counter and she's talking to Doris and Howard and I are putting the luggage up there.
So I put Sandra's suitcase up and it went over the limit. And Howard sees it and he tapped Sandra on the shoulder and he says, "Sandra, you have a weight problem". And the look in her eye was this is gonna be an awkward trip. And we have laughed about that for about five years. "Sandra, honey, you have a weight problem". Anyway so there's always a temptation to over-pack on a road trip, right? And on a road trip, it's not a big deal, but on a life trip, it may be the biggest deal. Unnecessary baggage, unnecessary baggage, what happens? Unnecessary baggage on life trip, it's a really big deal. Unnecessary baggage will slow you down and it'll slow everyone down in your family and everyone around you who's trying to do life with you. Baggage is that, this is that unresolved or partially resolved stuff from the past.
Our baggage is the stuff from the past keeps showing up in the future and keep showing up in the present. And it seems to just make things more and more and more complicated, actually empowers the past to define our future. It empowers the past to detour us from our destination of choice. So are you carrying any unnecessary baggage? You should take a look. And the reason we should all take a look every once in a while is because we've all been hurt and we've all been betrayed and we've all been left out and we've all been neglected. Some of us, you were forced to parent a parent because your parent was just so incapable. Even when you were in high school or college student, or maybe you had to forego a career to move back home to parent a parent. And there's just stuff, right, left you angry, left you vulnerable, left you suspicious of other relationships. And it's hard to unpack that stuff. It's hard not just to carry along with it. And the reason it's hard to leave it behind is because it's part of our story. It's part of our life experience.
So there's just something in us says, like, no I just have to carry this with me the rest of my life because it was such an integral part of my life, but it's best to unpack and leave it behind. And the reason you know it's best to unpack and leave it behind is because you want the people you're doing life with to unpack there's and leave there's behind when it begins to complicate your life. But it's hard to imagine that. But if you don't and if I don't, if you don't, if you don't deal with your demons, they go into the cellar of your soul and they just lift weights, they get bigger and stronger and bigger and stronger, and the thing that's so deceiving about this is the event itself gets further and further and further and further behind as you move forward. But the consequences in the shrapnel gets bigger and bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper.
And as time goes by, most people lose sight of the source of their anger, the source of their bitterness, the source of their anx, the source of their oh, they're just too complicated and they're too sensitive. They lose sight of the source when in fact the source is something that happened as part of their story. This is probably what Paul had in mind when he said to Christians, he said, look, you can't help but get angry sometimes. Sometimes you just gonna get angry, but if you're a Jesus follower, be angry but don't sin. Figure out how to separate yourself in a healthy way from what caused you or made you angry and the behavior that just complicates your life.
Don't let the sun go down while you're still angry and don't give the devil space or to contextualize it for our conversation, don't give the devil space in your luggage. Don't give the devil a toe hole, a handle, something that creates a place where he can hang on, a hiding place. And if you're not comfortable with the devil, we can change the word. Don't give bitterness and don't give resentment and don't give fear and don't give anger a toe hold, a place in your luggage where you carry it around over and over and over. Got any demons down there lifting weights, carrying any unnecessary baggage?
If you're not sure, the people closest to you, they know, they know. And they know because they have to help you carry it. They have to help you... They have to help you carry it. By that I mean sometimes they have to duck your anger. They have to navigate your overreaction. They have to navigate your moods. They have to avoid certain topics because every time those topics come up, you just escalate, so they just, shh, we don't talk about that. And the fact that they don't talk about it, you think you're fine, but it's because they're having to help you carry your baggage. They work hard to ignore or try to ignore your substance abuse. And they, the people who love you the most, will love for you to unpack that stuff or to find someone to help you unpack that stuff or to use the apostle Paul's words. He's just direct. He says, just get rid of it. Leave it behind. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, along with every form of malice.
And then he tells us how. And it's so simple that it seems simplistic. He says it's... I know you're gonna, it just seems too simple. It seems too good to be true. He says, here's how you do it, by forgiving each other. This is how you get rid of bitterness and anger. You find out the source and you unpack and you forgive and you say, Andy, but you don't know my story. And I you're right, I don't know your story. And I would never say this except for what Paul says next. He says, you are to forgive just as in Christ God forgave you. That we don't forgive because people deserve to be forgiven. They may not but then neither did we. We forgive because we've been forgiven. We cancel other people's debts because God through Christ canceled our debt. And here's the trick to all this.
See, when you're hurt and when I'm hurt, it creates a debtor relationship. The hurt, the betrayal, the abandonment, whatever it might be it creates debt. They owe me a childhood. They owe me a first marriage back. They owe me the opportunity to put my kids in bed at night. They owe me an education. They owe me, they owe me, they owe me, they owe me, they owe me. And what happens is that their debt becomes your baggage. And I've been there. We lug it around waiting to be paid back. And while we're lugging it around waiting to be paid back, the demons are lifting weights, lifting weights, lifting weights, lifting weights, get stronger and stronger and stronger. And the problem is of course the people from our past, they can't pay us back. Half the time, they don't even know they owe us anything.
And the other reason they can't pay us back is because we come equipped with rear view mirrors, but no reverse. They can't give you your childhood back or a marriage back or an opportunity back or career back. They can't give it back to you. So get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, along with every form of malice. Close those accounts. Tell your demons, I'm closing the gym and they'll complain. But over time, their voices, not immediately, but over time, their voices will grow weaker and weaker and weaker. And it's not fair to forgive. It's not fair 'cause they actually owe you. It's not about fairness. This is about your freedom.
So cancel those debts, unpack all that stuff. Choose to forgive, cancel their debt. You just decide this is what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is I've decided you don't owe me anymore. And who knows, unpack all that stuff, you might be able to get by and then carry on. So those are the five rules for the road. Don't travel alone, don't pick up strangers, choose a destination, get somebody's map, pay attention to the signs and don't carry unnecessary baggage. You're gonna end up somewhere in this season. You're gonna end up somewhere in life. I want you to end up somewhere in this season in life on purpose and you get to choose. So follow the rules for the road, and perhaps you will reach your destination on time and on purpose.