Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
This week I had to drive from downtown Ft. Lauderdale (very southeast Florida) to Columbus, Georgia. Nothing too unusual about that…except for the fact that I didn't have a map. All I knew leaving Ft. Lauderdale is that I needed to get to the Florida Turnpike where I would drive the first 250 miles of a 600 mile journey. Relying on my memory (first mistake) of some quickly dictated directions received from a local friend before leaving town, I started out, feeling pretty confident in my (cough), flawless ability to follow directions.
Twenty minutes later, in the heart of a residential area somewhere in south Florida, I conceded. The Florida Turnpike was nowhere to be found. Calling my friend from my cell, I lamented that, thanks to her directions, I was lost. When I relayed them back to her, she laughed.
"No, that's totally not what I said…you took a wrong turn."
Finally, after getting my car turned around in the right direction, I saw my first blessed "Florida Turnpike" sign, complete with an arrow. From that point on, it was all gravy. Every mile or so, there was a sign, pointing me safely in the right direction, leading me back toward home.
Of course, with many hours of gazing at the amazing Florida landscape (flat jungle foliage sprinkled with the most interesting emergency roadside call boxes), I had a little time left over for life contemplation. Another teaching moment in the making.
The surrendered Christian life doesn't come with a personal roadmap. We've got a starting point, and we know our destination (the Kingdom), but God doesn't tell us where we're going to turn tomorrow, which route we're going to take next week, or even where the next rest area is located. Sure, we can draw our own map and make an attempt at what we think is the best route, but it's never going to take us where we were made to go—to the better adventures awaiting us in the surrendered Christian life.
Just as not listening, or not writing down the instructions we've been given for today (or hearing them wrong) will get us lost, in trouble, or stranded, so will trying to figure out our own way brought on by impatience, fear of the unkown, or independent stubbornness. Sure, our own man-made maps may seem comfortable, taking us on a seemingly safer, more predictable route, but it's not the same exciting course as that of the surrendered Christian life.
So here's the deal. Following Jesus is more like following signposts than maps. And here's how it works. We begin the Christian life. We ask God what He wants us to do…where He wants us to go next—today. He points us in the direction of the Turnpike and we begin, not knowing what path we'll take, but knowing from the lives of other surrendered believers that the journey will be worth it and we'll arrive safely home. And we continue this process every day, coming to Him for direction through His word and prayer.
Through our developing relationship with God, we get signposts that lead us wherever He wants us to go. And if we follow them on our way home, we'll get to experience the greatest adventure possible with Him. Give me a signpost over a map any day!