“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
I’m fairly directionally challenged; navigation and directions are just not strong gifts of mine. I pretty much always had the map upside down when we did orienteering at school (despite the activity being on the same school grounds I had frequented 5 days a week for 5 years).
I remember a time when I was at University in Wales a friend and I decided to take a road trip back to my hometown to visit my family. Up until this point I had usually got the train home as I didn’t drive (having failed my test four times, but that’s a different blog post entirely). However, my friend decided not to use a satnav as she figured I should probably know the way to my own home (major mistake!). She navigated her way to the border of England and then asked me which motorway to take. Glancing at the sign I picked the one that sounded most familiar, what could go wrong? It turns out quite a bit! The whole journey should only have taken an hour, but when we were still driving nearly an hour after leaving Wales my concerned friend started to ask questions, “Does anything look familiar?” (it didn’t), “Are you sure this is the right way?” (I wasn’t). At which point I decided to do what I usually do when I’m stuck and don’t know what to do, I called my Dad. As it turned out, we were almost in Chippenham, which is nearly 50 miles in the opposite direction from my home and definitely not on the right motorway. Two and a half hours after setting off we finally arrived at my parent’s house.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but that would not be true! As I think back on this incident I can think of many other times in my life when I have headed way off course both intentionally and through lack of focus.
It seems I am not alone in this - there are many accounts in the Bible of people heading completely in the wrong direction before getting where they needed to be, often as a result of their lack of trust in God. Jonah fled to Tarshish in completely the opposite direction to Nineveh before being re-routed by a large fish. The Israelites wandered east of the Jordan for 40 years before entering the land that had already been promised to them. Abraham took a disastrous detour to Egypt before having to backtrack to Bethel in Canaan. Most of them got to where God had called them to eventually, but at what cost?
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
If I’d been willing to lay down my pride at the beginning of my journey home, admitted that I wasn’t really sure of the way, and had asked for directions we would have saved a lot of time and money, amongst other things. How often this has been reflected in my spiritual walk as well. Many times, instead of taking things to God in prayer first, I’ve decided that I know best and can figure it all out on my own, usually resulting in frustration, wasted energy, and me having to perform a U-turn, head back to where I started, and eventually decide to ask God for direction. Of course, God can redeem any situation and can bring good from it, we can always learn from these detours. However, I have found from my experiences that a lot of unnecessary heartache and struggle could have been avoided if I had just asked God for direction and followed Him in the first place.
So, today which way will you go?
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’”