i’m what you might call ‘directionally challenged.’
i get it from my mother. the woman could get lost in even the most familiar territory – all it would take is one, simple detour. regardless of how many times we’d been down that road, no matter how clearly marked the signs were, we would end up getting side-tracked and derailed from our initial destination. often times, we’d be more than fashionably late.
it seems i’ve inherited her lack of an internal compass, which is one reason i’m grateful for technological advances in recent years. GPS on your phone. Google Maps, Mapquest. iPhone apps are my friend.
no matter the final destination, these modifications in navigation and orientation have increased anyone’s ability to ‘get there.’ enter a starting point, enter an end point, and follow the directions turn-for-turn.
but that’s not how life works.
our spiritual journeys are less like Google Maps and Mapquest, and more like an ancient voyage or excursion.
we set our for a particular destination only to find ourselves derailed into unexpected detours. our expeditions look something like alfred lansing’s retelling of sir ernest shackleton’s incredible voyage in endurance.
ancient seafarers would use keen observation to navigate their way to shoreline. if they were close enough to the coast, they would follow the clouds, which form over land. if there was no land mass nearby, watching the direction a seabird traveled with food for its young was one reliable method to find the nearest dry ground.
celestial navigation allowed seamen to look toward the heavens to find one’s north-south position. the greatest advance in navigation came with the compass, as sailors were able to determine which direction was north even in overcast weather. they would travel, then check. travel, then check.
i’ve found God often uses detours in life to help us understand the journey of life is more about the process than the destination.
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.”