the scene: my dad driving, me riding shotgun, driving south in colorado springs in my itty-bitty honda civic. we’re heading to the airport where he will fly home after dropping me off for my summer internship. colorado springs lays just east of the rocky mountains.
dad: “now, if you get turned around, remember that the rockies are west, the plains are east.”
me, looking around, imprinting the images in my mind: “okay. yeah, the house is west of the interstate, east of the rockies. okay.”
starkly basic conversations like this are common in my driving world. “if you pass the XYZ store, you’ve gone too far.” or “just keep going even though you may think you have gone too far.”
i have the gift of almost complete directional disorientation. even where i sit, it would take me a good minute or two to tell you which way is north, and only after i visually map the roads that i know run north and south. if you ask me the same question from the same location tomorrow, the process will be the same.
i wonder if God gave me this limited-at-best sense of direction to break my desire to control everything.
in my driving world, i learned to accept that when i venture forth to a new place or one i have rarely been, “scenic routes” could be along the way. i turn to early or too late. i overthink it. i get nervous when construction upends my carefully plotted map.
and though i may fluster for a moment and turn down the radio so i can better focus, i accept these detours are part of my driving reality.
and yet, when life–which is much harder to map than road signs–presents an unexpected scenic route, i freak. i try to grasp for control, holding on to whatever i can with a death grip like a parent holding on with only one hand to the child who has gone over the cliff. i rattle at God, demanding explanations. and i pout. i shake my head at the perceived injustice. and sometimes i even stomp off, spiritually and physically. i hide.
yet the same does not happen when i drive. i expect that sometimes i will get lost. i expect that sometimes what i thought was a straight road actually y’s on me and i won’t know which way to go. and when those things sometimes happen, i do not stop, shake my fist and plop down on street corner to pout. instead, i take a moment, say a prayer, try to realign my perspective to the reality in front of me, and i keep going.
maybe the freedom i feel to drive around, despite my lack of directionality, is the same confidence God wants to instill in my faith. maybe He has given this real-world example to inform my spiritual reality.
and maybe life isn’t about the sidestreets of life. maybe it is as stark as the base of the Rockies: one way is west, one way is east, and the mountains mark the difference.
the mountains in faith are similarly craggy and rough. Jesus says as much in Matthew:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” –Matthew 7:13-14
the stark decision awaits: the mountains of faith or the plains of apathy.
and venturing forth comes with a heavy dose of directional inefficiency:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heaves are night than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” –Isaiah 55:8-12
it may require u-turns, cell phone calls for assistance, and maybe even a spiritual AAA card. but i choose faith. and i choose to confidently venture forth.