Sometimes I think back on events that happened in my life as a young person and wonder what in the world I thinking at the time. One such event that comes to mind occurred when I was a young teenager, perhaps 14 or 15 years old. I was offered a job–my first job—working in a barber shop shining shoes for customers. I don’t really remember how I even came to find out about the job but, nonetheless, I was able to work at the barber shop during the summer weekdays when school was not in session, as well as on Saturdays. I didn’t get paid much at all, mostly tips, but for someone who had never worked a “real” job before, this was a gold mine of an opportunity. I was able to earn a few bucks each day and actually had some real spending money which seemed like a fortune to me at the time.
The difficult thing about this job was that I was not old enough to drive. Of course, this meant that one of my parents had to drop me off and pick me up. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing although, over time, I could tell it became somewhat of a burden to them because they had their own schedules and couldn’t always work around mine. Over time, we noticed that there was a City bus that picked up passengers not too far from our house and continued on its route to the shopping center where the barber shop was located and further on its route through the City. I can remember my Dad finding out about the particular bus number I would have to take and the routes it would follow, as well as where to get on and off. It was a big step for me to get “dropped off” at the bus stop; wait for the bus to arrive and, then, pay attention along the journey so I would know just when my stop was getting close. I remember that we even rehearsed the route–going and returning–so I would know exactly what to expect. I felt like such an adult getting to ride the bus by myself and going to work without my parents dropping me off and picking me up.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans sometimes don’t work out as expected and this was no different. There was one particular day that I remember riding the bus to work with no problems at all. I waited for my upcoming stop and pulled the bell to alert the driver. The driver stopped right on queue and off I went to work holding my head high. I worked my normal day, shining those shoes as best as I could (which wasn’t very good by the way) until closing time. As was typical, I said good-bye to my bosses and began the short walk to my designated bus stop and awaited my chariot to bring me home. I waited. And, I waited. And, I waited some more. Those of you that ride buses regularly know what I am speaking of. I began to worry and panic. Remember, there were no cell phones in those days. I began to worry that my parents would wonder where I was. I couldn’t easily let them know the bus was late. In fact, if I walked to a find a pay phone and call them, I might miss the bus which would make me even later. This became crisis time; decision time for me.
Finally, I saw a City bus coming toward me in the opposite direction on the other side of the street. It looked like the same bus I would normally catch. It had the same bus number. It had the same colors. Everything about it looked exactly like the bus I would normally catch–except it was going the opposite way. I made the quick decision to cross the street and get on that bus just to be going somewhere. For some reason, I thought that the City buses just ran a continuous circle route. I knew the bus was going the opposite way but I thought it would continue on and eventually circle back in the direction I wanted to go. I figured that at least I was on the bus and would just take a longer, more circular route back home. Boy, was I wrong.
The bus continued to downtown and eventually got to the end of its route. I was the only remaining passenger on the bus. The driver stopped the bus, turned to me, and asked me “where are you going?” I told him my home address and he said those famous words that echo in my mind today, “Son, you’re going the wrong way.” He went on to give some directions how to walk to another bus stop to catch a bus going back the direction I needed to go. Once I heard “you’re going the wrong way,” I basically didn’t hear another word he said. I got off the bus, wondered around City streets and was totally lost. I had no idea where I was. I had no idea where the mythical bus stop was. I was really, really scared. After what seemed like an eternity, I found a pay phone and called home. I was able to give my Dad some cross streets and some idea of where I thought I was and he was able to come rescue me from being homeless for the night.
It’s actually quite a humorous story now when I think back on it, but it wasn’t funny at all at the time. As I look around the world today, I see so many people who are religious or who follow things of this world that lead them in the wrong direction. So many things today look like the real thing and appear to be the real thing, yet they aren’t. They deceive us into the wrong things and we end up following what we think is correct only to find out we’re going in the opposite direction—just like my bus ride all those years ago.
There is only one true Christ. There may be those who try to appear the same, look the same, and have just enough of the truth to appear to be the same, but they aren’t. I remember accepting Christ when I was 13 years old and my life has never been the same sense. Sure, there have been ups and downs but through it all, I know that I am going in the right direction and that my route in life will lead me home one day. Always measure your faith against what God says in His word—His Word that never changes—and not what Man says about the word and you’ll never go wrong and end up going in the wrong direction.