Sunday, December 9, 2012

Direction for the Hopelessly Lost

“Hopelessly lost” is a good adjective to describe me, not just in a spiritual sense but in a physical one as well. 

When God was assembling my double helix, He left out the genetic code that would give me a sense of direction. North, south, east, west—don’t ask me. Instead, I attempt to drive by landmarks—the house with the “Quilts for Sale” sign out front, the farm where sheep used to graze twenty years ago, the intersection where golden squash and plump unshucked ears of corn were heaped overflowing in baskets one summer. 

Even then, driving familiar roads is incredibly difficult, especially when a route I’ve driven dozens of time should be familiar but still isn’t. A few weeks back, I got lost driving to my friend’s house and had to call frantic for help.

As you can probably guess, I have a serious fear of being lost. Going prayer walking each week through the maze-like twists and turns of subdivisions has a couple times left me frantic, almost lost with thoughts of leaving breadcrumbs along my path to ensure I find my way back to the van.

Several years ago, my husband bought me a Garmin as a Valentines’ Day gift, but it died a well-mourned death two summers ago. Ever since, each time I get behind the wheel, I feel like a trapeze artist flying through the air with no net. If I let myself think about it, it’s terrifying and I'll just stay home, instead.

All too many times, I don’t know the way when others find it childishly simple.

Tonight marks the second week of advent, two purple candles now flickering in the darkness. During Week One, we focused on Christ being “our Hope.” This week, the focus is on Jesus being “the Way.”

In the upper room when Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was to come, He said, "'In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.' Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?' Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (Jn. 14:2-6).

Jesus clearly tells us that He is The Way to everlasting life, to the place He is preparing for us. What’s more, He is the only way. But trusting in Christ alone for one’s salvation is a plan so simple that it’s easy to miss.

Even for the directionally challenged, it sometimes seems more logical, even easier to forge our own paths and trust in the good works of our hands, in what “feels” right in our gut versus trust in Him and what His many times head-scratching Word says about The Way He has laid out for us to follow.

But leaning on our own sense of direction will only result in us being hopelessly lost. Proverbs 3:5-6 speaks of Christ’s followers finding the Way by trusting in Him by faith: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Trust, faith in Christ is the only Way. Relying on a map made by human understanding will only take us down a different path than the one leading straight to salvation.

As difficult as Scripture is to understand at times, to know the Way is to know the Word. John tells us, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).

In this Advent season, the Word is about to make His appearance in flesh. The Way is coming to make Himself known to a lost world.

While we may not know the exact paths, hills, and curves God wants us to take on our journey to Him, we do know He has given His Word as a roadmap to help guide us in the Way.

For one so confused by earthly directions, the idea that there is only one Way is actually quite comforting. If I keep my eyes firmly focused on Him, if I ask in faith for His guidance and keep my mind and heart rooted in studying and applying His word, I can’t get lost.

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