The Tail of the Dragon” is the ride of your life if you like riding a motorcycle on mountain roads. “The Dragon,” as it is known to many, is an eleven mile stretch of US Highway 129 that runs along Deals Gap, a mountain pass along the North Carolina and Tennessee state line. We expect mountain roads to be curvy, but the Tail of the Dragon has more twists and turns that an eleven-mile-long pretzel! Those eleven miles, bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, have 318 really tight curves. My brother-in-law and I rode our motorcycles along The Dragon some ten years ago. The road has no houses, driveways, or intersecting highways – just 11 miles of thrills and chills and pure, adrenaline-producing curves as you roll along, leaning first one way, then the other. When you ride the Tail of the Dragon, one thing becomes crystal clear – because of the curves, you can’t see very far ahead!
The highway of life is much like, and unlike, the Tail of the Dragon. Like it in that life is filled with constant curves that prevent us from seeing clearly with absolute clarity, curves requiring careful navigation. But unlike the curves on the Tail of the Dragon, curves on the highway of life are most often not things any of us are attracted to or seek out for pleasure. As was said long ago, so it can still be said – “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). James 4:13-14 warns against thinking the straight stretch of life you may be on will always be free of curves. James rebukes us for making plans and predicting exactly where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing and how much profit we’ll be making a year into the future, all the while with no reference to or regard for the sovereign will of God. With a verbal warning sign about sharp curves ahead we can’t see around, James reminds us we cannot predict how curve-free our lives will be a day from now, let alone a year –”whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.” Our journey in life prone to blind curves that make the future unclear and unpredictable.
Question – has the year 2020 turned out the way you thought it would? A tiny, vile little thing called a coronavirus (Covid-19), unheard of by most of us until a few months ago, has affected all of us in one way or the other. There’s no need for me to repeat things you’ve already heard scores of times about Covid-19. But Covid-19 was a curve – an unexpected, sharp and frightening twist – in our free-wheeling, warp-speed, go- where-we-want and do-what-we-want way of life in America. You have to slow down to take a sharp curve – and boy, oh boy, has the corona-curve slowed us down! Someone said God makes bends in the road because He doesn’t want us to see too far ahead. It’s hard to argue with that when 2 Corinthians 5:7 calls to all those who follow Christ to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 gives a sure way to negotiate unexpected curves that pop up along our journey through life – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” This passage is not promising life will be without curves, conflict, and even a Covid-19 pandemic. What it promises is that in view of eternity the safest and surest, and ultimately the only way to make it through life – whether straight stretches or sharp and dangerous curves we can’t see around – is to lean not on human wisdom and schemes, but ultimately on the Lord. There’s no curve He can’t safely see you through. Are you leaning on Jesus?