Slowly sipping coffee, snuggled in my favorite chair, wrapped in a blanket in the early morning silence, I am welcoming this quiet day where the calendar app is mostly empty. An incredibly busy week has passed, one that included far more events and meetings and gatherings than I usually schedule in a month. The whirlwind has given way to time for reflecting, for processing and cleaning up details (and my home), and for gratitude. I know fully that this hectic time is a signal to all that I am back and inviting relationships with others rather than being consumed by my own grief. I celebrate the ministries that God has led me into even as my coffee cools and my thoughts return again and again to the possibility of a nap later today. The challenge for me is always knowing just where I am meant to be, where I should go and to not dwell on those places that I am being kept out of. Given that I am directionally challenged, finding my way is often those most difficult part of my journey.
When my sweet friend invited me to see Little Women with her a couple of weeks ago, a friend-date to an actual theater in the evening, I knew this would stretch me. I try to never drive after dark. Yep, with a birthday coming this week I am admitting to having old eyes that cannot do night driving. I really wanted to go and Chef was working and I didn’t think to suggest we ride together, so when it was time to leave my home and make the 10 minute trek, I made a bad choice. Rather than drive the route I do almost daily, I picked that time to switch it up. I have searched my mind for the reasoning behind this and I come up empty. What I know is that when I can’t see well I begin to rely on false cues. I was almost late to the movie and caused my friend worry that I wasn’t meeting her. That should have been enough for me to recognize my limitations. When it was time to drive home, I thought I was making a wise decision to follow her, she lives 2 minutes from my house. Satisfied with my brilliance, empowered by my problem-solving, I followed the car ahead of me as it skirted campus, navigated the round-abouts and led us in the direction of home, all the way up until it didn’t. Friends, I was following the wrong car. Even as it began to dawn on me that I was going the wrong way, I followed. I panicked, searched for a place to pullover to get back to what I have trusted before (mapquest is my most used app) and heard my husband’s voice in my head. Thoughts of the coming shame led to more wrong turns, I became more focused on my embarrassment than on actually getting home. This road looks familiar, wait is there where we usually turn? Is it safe to pull over and recalibrate?
Friends, I made it home but the 10 minute drive lasted closer to 40. It was harrowing. And so very unnecessary. I forgot to use the tools that have worked, I relied on my own understanding in the worst circumstances. I created drama and frustration and it all could have ended badly. Reading Luke 9.23-26 took on new meaning as I considered what it means to be lost and found.
Luke 9:23-27 The Message (MSG)
23-27 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”
We have since laughed about the fact that I got lost 10 minutes from home but the truth is that I lose my car in the grocery parking lot, I often take the longest route to get somewhere. I struggle to find my way so often exactly because I don’t keep my eyes on Jesus, I rely on my own understanding and impulsive ideas. “Anyone who intends to come to Me has to let Me lead.” Friends, I am convicted. I can fill up my schedule or stay hunkered down at home but I have to let Jesus lead me or I will forever get lost. Poor vision is a reminder that I cannot see without His light leading me. And I always need to ask for help, even 10 minutes from home.
I am praying today that we all rely on Him more than our own senses, that we remember we are not in the drivers seat, and that it is critical we stay on the path He lays out for us. Following the wrong one will never get us home.