In honor of Bryan's birthday coming up in a few days, I thought I'd share a lesson we learned together several years ago when we were traveling to Pennsylvania to learn how to build log homes.
WHO'S YOUR MAP
It would’ve been different if it weren’t nearly midnight, if I’d ever been in Baltimore before, or if we didn’t have a two-hour drive before us. But it was, and we hadn’t, and we did. So when my husband, Bryan, and I climbed into our Hertz rent-a-car we knew it wouldn’t be easy to get to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania over 140 miles away.
But when I unfolded the Hertz map, I realized it would be even harder than I’d thought. “This only shows downtown Baltimore and Washington DC.” I turned to Bryan and frowned.
“Well, um,” Bryan cleared his throat, “looks like we’ll just have to figure it out on our own.”
“You’re kidding,” I muttered.
He gave me a sheepish grin, started the car, and pulled from the parking space. We hadn’t driven ten feet when a strange voice spoke from a box attached to the dash. “What is your destination?” it asked.
“What’s that?” I pointed.
“I think it’s an onboard navigator,” Bryan answered. “Punch in where we’re going and see what happens.”
After a minute of pushing buttons, a map appeared on the screen, and a smooth woman’s voice emanated from the box. “Approaching right turn,” it said.
“Look!” I exclaimed. “It’s showing us where to go.”
Bryan made the right turn and continued to follow the box’s instructions until we reached a freeway and headed north. “I love this machine!” I announced.
But after about 45 minutes, I wasn’t so sure. The problem was, the machine only showed us up to the next turn. It didn’t reveal the entire map, and I was starting to have my doubts.
“Are we sure that box knows where we’re going?” Bryan said.
“How do we know it’s giving us the right directions?” I responded.
“That doesn’t seem like the right turn, does it?” Bryan grumbled ten minutes later.
Finally, Bryan had enough. “I’m pulling over and getting a map,” he announced.
“Shouldn’t we trust the machine?” I said, but not very convincingly.
Soon, he spotted a gas station and pulled off the road. Ten minutes later he returned with map in hand. “This is the right road,” he murmured in a very small voice.
“Trust the machine,” I winked.
For the rest of the trip, we decided to “trust the machine,” and sure enough, before long, we pulled up, safe and sound, in front of our hotel in Lewisburg.
Since then, I’ve realized that our Lewisburg trip is much like life. Sometimes I’m tempted to navigate by poor maps of worldly wisdom. Or, I think I can “wing it” by doing what seems easiest at the moment. But those methods will only get me lost. Christ offers me another way. When I gave my life to him, he became my onboard navigator, saying to me “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 31:21)
The problem is trusting. Sometimes it’s hard when God is telling me to be kind to someone who’s hurt me, to forgive, to go the extra mile when there seems to be no benefit for me. But what’s the hardest of all is to trust when I don’t see the whole map in front of me. I want to see all the turns and curves of my life right now. But that’s not how God works. Instead, he asks me to trust him one step at a time. And like Bryan, sometimes I feel like pulling off the road to check if he’s leading me the right way. But, then I tell myself to “trust the machine” – trust the One who knows more than any map I could ever buy. He knows where I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going.
And so I’m learning to believe and obey God for the “now” – to do the right thing, to do what he asks today, in this moment, and trust that He will be with me in the turns and curves to come. I remind myself that I have an onboard navigator; God knows the whole map of my life. All I need to do is trust and obey.