He is a wide eyed, freshly minted rebel, this dear young sinner that I am burdened for and praying over.
Like the Prodigal Son of Luke 15, he has become enamored of the bright lights and partying sounds of the far country, and is just now beginning to make his way down Rebel Road heading that direction. He despises the “restrictiveness” of the father’s house and sees only good times ahead as he leaves it.
I have seen many like him through the years.
The beginning of Rebel Road is most always a pleasant, easy path. The wind is at one’s back, the sun is shining, and the face of the one walking that way is smiling from ear to ear. And for a while longer, usually, every indication is that the way and the destination will forever be pleasant.
The devil, you see, is good at his job. And he knows that if the one starting on that road could see the end results of that decision, he would likely run back to safety as fast as his legs could carry him.
And thus it is that, the one thing that could prevent that journey from ever beginning, is kept carefully hidden.
There are quite a few people in Scripture who went that way. They all have a commonality: it did not end well. Samson traveled Rebel Road, he was one of the most famous to do so. The road began with parties and women and games. His parents protested, and his answer was “she pleaseth me well.” Whatever felt good to his flesh, Samson pursued it. He would have his freedom, he would do things his way, he would never again be told what to do. But at the end of that road, it was the very one in whose lap he laid his head that first began to afflict him. Delilah drew first blood. Samson was mocked, his eyes were put out, his freedom was taken, and he died with the Philistines.
David traveled that road. The sweet psalmist of Israel, the Goliath slayer, committed adultery.
She got pregnant, and then to cover his sin, David murdered her husband. David ended up a broken man, with a ruined family, a venereal disease, and a blot on his name that remains to this day.
The Prodigal went down Rebel Road as well. He partied, he devoured the father’s living with harlots, his sin grew so great that even way back home, in a day before any electronic communications, everyone knew exactly what he was doing.
But then the famine came. The boy found himself taking employment feeding hogs. None of his partying friends were there to feed and house him; he was broke, and of no more use to them. Worse still, even his employer abused him. This wealthy landowner with multiple fields, flocks, servants, and provisions, apparently did not pay the boy. He was reduced to begging for hog slop, and even that was refused him.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 13:15 says, “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”
Every budding rebellious sinner should do themselves a favor. Go find someone who has been sold out to sin for a very long time, and see how that has worked out for them. Go check out what things look like at the end of Rebel Road, once the bright lights have faded and the parties died down. It is normally not a very pretty sight.
As a pastor, I have seen the end of both roads many times. I have seen sinners grow old before their time, experience the brokenness of sin, and look back on a life of loss with bitter regret. I have also been at the bedside of dying saints, with family gathered around, smiling and singing a hymn and then calmly slipping into the very presence of Jesus. It is a stark, stark contrast.
Are you looking with longing at Rebel Road? Check out what things look like at the end of it before you start that way.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. Dr. Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.