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Down a Dead End

By Doug Bing, Washington Conference President

We have a polite word for a street that ends with no exit available: cul-de-sac. I actually live on one. I grew up calling streets like that a dead end, and it is still my go-to word most of the time when I find myself on a cul-de-sac.

It seems that the French “cul-de-sac” sounds much nicer than “dead end.”


What’s interesting is that the literal meaning of cul-de-sac is actually “bottom of the bag,” kind of like getting to the last piece of candy or eating the last slice of bread in a bag.

It doesn’t really have anything to do with traveling on a street. Even the French don’t use cul-de-sac to describe a dead end. They call it “une voie sans issue,” meaning a no-win situation…at least that’s what the dictionary said, as I don’t speak French.

No matter what it is called, dead ends can be really frustrating unless you like living there. When you are going somewhere, however, it is not fun to be at a dead end and having to retrace your steps to find your way.

It can feel even more frustrating when it seems God has led you right into a dead end.


Consider the children of Israel. When they left Egypt with high hopes of entering the Promised Land of milk and honey God had promised, they faithfully followed that pillar of cloud and fire. The route led them right up to the Red Sea; in other words, a dead end, a cul-de-sac, the bottom of the bag. Not only was the Red Sea in front of them, the Egyptian army stood behind them. The children of Israel had nowhere to go.

Yet the they had followed where God led. (Exodus 14:1,2).


There is a simple thing to remember when facing a dead end like that. Remember that if God led you there, He planned for you to be there. If God led you there or allowed you to be there, He also has plans you don’t know of to lead you through it. The Israelites had no idea they were going forward through the Red Sea. They, like all of us, only saw a dead end and were afraid because of the army behind them.

So, if you are currently at a dead end—maybe even one of your own making—God can lead you out and to a place of safety and victory. The main thing is to keep following where God leads even if it is in a new way that you have never experienced before.

A dead end in God’s eyes doesn’t mean there is no way forward. It only means God has plans to make a way. We are to stay on the journey with Him.