Exit 226

by Andy Wood on October 10, 2012

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

On Interstate 40 in New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa, you’ll find an exit at the 226 mile marker.

That’s about it.

A bridge and four exit and entrance lanes.  That’s all.

There is no food, phone, gas or camping opportunity.  No tourist traps so common on this major cross-country artery.  Nothing.

Okay, but at least there’s a highway number or the name of some road, right?  I mean, plenty of Interstate exits offer no services, but at least they name the road or the destination like Owassa, Hope Hull, or Tucumcari.  What’s the name of this road?

There isn’t one.

Where does it lead?

Nowhere.

The sign simply says, “Exit 226.”

Think maybe somebody with political pull had an exit built to get to their house or ranch faster?  Think again.  Do a Google Maps satellite search and you won’t see any rooftops for miles.

Exit 226, for all intents and purposes, is a nameless road to nowhere.

Alternative Explanations

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would imagine that Exit 226 was a secret gateway to some hideaway bunker, militia training camp, or secret Illuminati planning facility.

If I was a government or military watchdog, I would wonder if Exit 226 led to an underground nuclear launch site or perhaps was New Mexico’s answer to Area 51.

If I was a Libertarian, I would probably assume that Exit 226 was the result of some sort of Federal bureaucratic requirement.  Some civil or social engineer randomly decided that a certain number of exits had to be built at certain points on the Interstate System – even if it meant building a ramp to nowhere.  This – this – is what government run amuck produces – unnecessary spending and ridiculous regulation.

If I was a politician running for office, I would promise that the days of unnecessary exits were over.  Or I would point to all the jobs created by the construction of the exit ramps and call for more “investments” in the exit ramp sector of the economy.

If I was an economist or accountant, I would wonder if the Highway Department was at the end of the Federal money train one year and the message was clear about the money pipeline – use it or lose it.  “Hey,” somebody in Santa Fe said, “know what’d be funny?”  And Exit 226 was born.

If I was a freewheeling Baptist pastor, I would nod knowingly and explain that Exit 226 was a rest area designed by a committee.

Creating Possibilities

At the end of the day, I have no clue what would prompt somebody to spend money in the middle of nowhere on an exit to take nobody even deeper into nowhere.  Unless…

Unless maybe at some time in the past there was a plan.  A plan for a rest area or a massive roadside souvenir shop or a Dairy Queen.  After all, in Texas I think it is a law – no Dairy Queens shall be more than 30 miles from the next Dairy Queen.

Maybe in all the planning, somebody wanted to create options – possibilities for somebody, someday to invest in some sort of business serving travelers.  Okay, so the options have never been exercised or the possibilities realized.  But at least somebody made those possibilities possible back when the construction was cheaper.

Your Exit 226

Somewhere in your life there are probably a few of your own versions of Exit 226.

Like the time you had big plans for an important undertaking.  You prepared the gateway.  But you never executed the plan on the other side.

Or maybe it was the time you partnered with somebody to create something magic or meaningful – a business or a solution to somebody’s problem or something.  You did your part – you “built the exit” – but they punked out on theirs.  Or (uh oh…) vice versa – they did their part and you left them high and dry.

Maybe you spent a lot of money on something that you never actually used (like a college degree), or positioned yourself or got training for a job that, turns out, doesn’t exist.

What’s your everlasting symbol of wasted time or money?  Where are your trophies of unrealized potential?  Where do people look at your life, scratch their heads and ask, “What were they thinking?” or “Whatever happened to them?”

Where did you get lost on a road to nowhere?  Did you ever find your way back?

Where are you still holding out hope that one day that plan, that idea, that possibility is still delightfully possible?  After all, Las Vegas was once a hole-in-the-wall desert town.  Lincoln lost way more elections than he won.  Edison was a spectacular failure at creating the light bulb… until he wasn’t.

Exit 226 and the Bible

The Bible has its own version of Exit 226. Acts 2:26, that is. Only it’s not a road to nowhere.  It’s a pathway to light and life.

Peter is preaching on the day of Pentecost.  He’s talking about the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  He quotes David from Psalm 16:

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope” (Acts 2:26, NIV).

Our Ultimate Exit – the power behind the possibilities, based on a living faith in the risen Christ – is a glad heart, a rejoicing tongue, and a living hope.

There’s a huge difference between an exit and an escape.  By making a choice to rejoice, we exit the feelings of discouragement, despair, or distraction without trying to escape them down dead-end roads to oblivion.  We can find joy in knowing that even in what feels like a bridge to nowhere, God is there, too.  You’ll find Him waiting to heal the hurts of your wasted opportunities, jump-start the courage to forge ahead, or forgive your stupid, willful choices.  Your heart can be glad, even in the wake of regrets, disappointments, or delays.  And that gladness of the heart will give new wings to your dreams and possibilities.

Sporting events aside, have you ever erupted in shouting or singing because you couldn’t contain the excitement any longer?  That’s easy to do when you can see with your eyes what you hope for in your heart.  But faith offers something much more – the capacity to rejoice in what your eyes have yet to see.  When you can pass the Exit 226 markers in your life and rejoice out loud for what your faith can see, even though it looks like a wasteland to everybody else, you’ll find enormous power in that.

Quick quiz on hope:  If God is able to give you a steadfast confidence that reaches beyond the grave, don’t you think He can sustain you as well on this side of it?  I don’t mean that ethereal, poetic pseudo-inspiration that’s long on promise but short on delivery.  I’m talking about a real, concrete, steadfast confidence that problems were made for solving, people were made for loving and redeeming, and plans formed in the heart can and will be executed by the invisible hand of God. That, fellow traveler, is hope.

You may feel as though your life is a road to nowhere.  I’m here to tell you that the Lord still specializes in transforming you from prodigal to purposeful.

You may feel as nameless as the narrow roads at Exit 226.  But God is faithful to remind you that “He knows your name, He knows your every thought.  He sees each tear that falls, and He hears you when you call.”

You may feel as unused or wasted as the land along I-40 there in New Mexico.  But your usefulness is not determined by circumstances, natural limitations, or raw human strengths.  It is determined by grace of the living God and the faith of His people.  Time for you to start believing again.

I may never pass Exit 226 again.  But I pray I never forget the pregnant possibilities of a lonely road sign, offering no one in particular a gateway to nowhere special.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando October 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

I’ve experienced many Exit 226s in my life’s journey . . . so glad that the Lord placed me back on track. Hallelujah!
Blessings, Andy!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post .."Jesus Loves the Little Children . . ."

Lynne Watts October 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I love the analogy. What about all the people who get off at that exit and expect to arrive somewhere rather than nowhere? What about all the people who drive forever and never realize that it’s the wrong exit? What about….
Lynne Watts´s last blog post ..Gardens and Life Can Be Messy

Andy Wood October 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Hi Martha,

Ain’t it so! Me too!

Andy Wood October 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Lynne,

i KNOW… I just kept thinking of the possibilities last night as I was writing that. So many ways we could facet that idea. Thanks for stopping by!

Tom July 13, 2013 at 12:41 am

A dead-end stretch of the post-1937 alignment of Route 66 is just south of the exit.

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