“Recalculating route, (you idiot!).”
I hear the words in parentheses implied in her tone every time! But no matter how velvet-smooth her voice, there is still no speech, language, or dialect where an almost ninety-degree turn should be described as a ‘slight right’ (heifer!)…word in parentheses implied in my tone. Two can play that game.
Navigation system hostility aside however, I must admit that there are times when I deeply empathize with anyone faced with the frustration of giving someone specific directions to somewhere you know well, and they refuse to listen or follow your directions. One of these days there is going to be an official disease, researched and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine called, ‘will-not-ask-for-or-follow-directions-itis’!
Some sufferers from this disease are the people who will ask you for directions, not do anything you tell them to do, end up where they have no business being, and then insist that you to give them new directions to get them out of the predicament they chose to be in, to the place where they are supposed to be. God bless them…because I want to hurt them…until the truth hits me…wait, I’ve done that.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the One who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message Bible.
How many times have I read those words, but allowed pride, fear or lack of discipline to keep me from doing what it says? And, as much as I like the Carrie Underwood song it sounds to me as if Jesus does not want to take the wheel. No, I think we’re the ones in the driver’s seat, and He wants to navigate; giving us the directions that will get us to our destination safely. We can follow the directions or ignore them; we drive, we choose.
His directions sometimes appear out-dated, irrelevant, or ‘just not going to work in my situation’. He could not possibly have foreseen the science, technology and culture of the 21st century, could He? And, how can His directions compete with the opinions of those movers and shakers who shape modern culture and thought? Or is it possible that my particular challenges and problems are soooooooo unique that the One who made me unique cannot possibly figure out the way I ought to go?
Truth is, He does know it all and we are the ones always playing catch-up; John wrote “every eye will see Him’ (Revelation 1:7), long before the invention of television or satellites. He is all-powerful and His purposes cannot be thwarted; against centuries of public opinion Ezekiel wrote that Israel would become a nation again two thousand, five hundred and twenty years before it happened on May 14, 1948 (Ezekiel 37:11-14). And, He knows you better than anyone else, including you, so would you ask somebody who builds push-carts how or where to drive your Mercedes Benz? Hmmmmm?
My biggest problem following directions is how easily I get distracted. There was that one time driving a very familiar route to southern California that I missed the exit to the 210 East because I was ‘rocking out’ to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”; my daughter still brings that up every time we drive down. Also, I find the combination of sale prices and my collection of coupons to be extremely distracting; and it took me waaaaay longer than necessary to get gas the other day because there was a TV screen in the gas pump!
It is not easy to find direction for life in the busyness and clamor of ordinary days, or to carve out time away from the ‘noise’ of household duties, electronic devices, well-intentioned people, and undisciplined thoughts to read, to pray, and to listen on purpose. But the greatest reward for this deliberate choice to listen is that no matter how far off course we may be, there is never an irritated, condescending or snooty voice making us feel condemned for missing the right turn, or taking a wrong one.
“…I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
In the interest of full disclosure, I must also admit there have been the times when I was following God’s directions as best as I knew how but was convinced He was trying to get me killed! I was broke, broken-down, broken-hearted, and facing broke-my-back mountains of failure, and hopelessness. Then ‘out of the blue’ help would come to provide for every need; and later when I looked back with the clarity of hindsight, I would see the lessons learned and be able to face the next challenges fortified by increased faith, hope and confidence in His love because,
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths…” Psalm 23:2-3
So here’s the thing, you get one shot at this life and you can trust God to navigate you successfully through it. You have to be willing to follow His directions, and not allow yourself to be distracted by people who are of no help to you on this journey or by things that have no eternal value. And when the way gets hard, and you find yourself exhausted and about to lose heart, then my friend be confident that you are growing exponentially, and expect that eventually He will direct you to sanctuary. It is your life and you get to drive so strap in, adjust your ‘mirrors’ so you can see the way clearly, listen to your Navigator, put it in drive…and just live the thing.