Play on Words

Have you ever felt like you’ve hit a brick wall? A dead end? Maybe it’s in a career path. Maybe in a relationship or a project. I find myself at this point in my writing journey. When I expressed that feeling to a friend, she asked me if I knew the difference between a dead end and a roadblock. A dead end implies that there is no further progress, resolution, or success, that continuing in the same direction will result in failure. Maybe it’s time to abandon the path, you think. Give up.

A roadblock, however, my friend pointed out, refers to an obstacle or hindrance that prevents progress or success in a particular endeavor. It implies that there may be alternative routes or ways to overcome the obstacle. The trick to discovering where we are in our journeys, dead end, or a roadblock, is to make it a matter of prayer. Which one of these obstacles are you facing?

With a dead end, we have a choice: stay there and stagnate, perhaps retracing our steps until we come to where we started. Nothing wrong with that, except we can spend a lot of time second guessing every decision and being distracted by every mistake we made but can’t undo no matter how hard we try.

In a roadblock, there should be an alternate route, a detour, that will lead us back to the original destination. It’s all about perspective: assessing the barrier before us as a place to give up or to look for a new path. Isaiah wrote to the Israelites: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the deserts.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Then there’s another play on words that I’ve been contemplating. I found a poem written over a hundred years ago that gave me something else to ponder. Here is part of the poem by R. L. Sharpe (about 1890).

Each is given a bag of tools,
     A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
     And each must make –
Ere life is flown –
     A stumbling block

Or a steppingstone.

This, like the roadblock and dead end analogy, is about prayerfully looking at obstacles to find out if they are stumbling blocks or can be used as steppingstones.

How do you know how to handle obstacles?

Here’s one of my favorite promises in the Bible that might help: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

4 thoughts on “Play on Words

  1. Greg Nelson

    Great piece you’ve written here, Nan..
    Sometimes we’re so busy doing…we don’t know how to stop. But taking a break might be just a thing to do for a while. Watchman Nee, said, that for the world, to act is to go out and do something. But for the Christian, to act is to rest. God may be asking me to get out lof myself, take a pause and see some new things that invigorate me. I’ve had to stop many times,, which was one of the most difficult things for me to do, because I felt I wasn’t accomplishing anything if I wasn’t doing something. I don’t know if that makes any sense. No marrer…, I love your writing, and I love how this prompts me to think. But I also love you, Nan…very much! Have a beautiful day, sweet friend.

  2. Joy Neal Kidney

    Yes, ask God! Allen Arnold’s Waves of Creativity: A Gathering of Ideas on Creating with God has been especially helpful reminding me that if I’m creating without Him, it won’t have what only He can infuse. (A couple of fonts in the book drive me crazy, but maybe that’s to get me to slow down enough to really ponder what he’s proposing.)

  3. Greg Nelson

    I really like this piece of written here,, Nan.
    Sometimes it’s best to take a break. Watchman Nee said that, for the world, to act was to go out and do something, but for the Christian, to act is to rest.

    I know for me, I’ve had to stop many times, because I wasn’t moving forward,. But maybe it was God telling me to take a break, get outside myself, and look and be invigorated by new things that I see. It’s that faulty thinking that if I’m not doing something, certainly nothing is being accomplished in my life. But sometimes doing nothing is the elixir. I. don’t know if that makes any sense at all. No matter….I love your writing, and how it causes me to think. But most of all, I love you, Nan.. have a beautiful day precious friend.


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