Lessons in Navigation
Let me begin by saying that I’m not big on road trips. Four hours is typically my limit. Anything over that and I get antsy and irritable. Last week, I had the somber task of attending a memorial service for a friend’s husband at Dudley Park in Athens, GA. I’ve been to Athens once before but I rode with someone very acquainted with the way.
As I was preparing for the trip, I didn’t ask anyone for directions. I trusted my navigation system (aka Prissy) to get me where I needed to go. Now, you should know that Prissy and I don’t get along much. She’s quite the task master. I want to throw her through the windshield when she repeats “calculating route” at the slightest deviation from her planned course. Let’s just say she has a hard time adapting to any inconvenience, such as when you need to go to the restroom or grab some sustenance while en route! Not only is Prissy a task master, but apparently her definition of “fastest route” is different than mine (and the rest of the world’s, for that matter). Despite her failings, she’s always gotten me where I needed to go, even if she takes me around the world to get there. Considering the route she led me on to Athens that would be an understatement.
Trusting that Prissy would get me to Athens, I confidently typed “Dudley Park” as my destination and embarked on the most frustrating journey that I can remember.
Things went well until I hit Atlanta. Of course, doesn’t everything go well until you are in Atlanta? Ah, Atlanta, you challenge me, but I will have to write about you another day.
I was rocking along singing with the music on my iPhone when I hit a dead stop at the I75/I85 junction. “So much for fastest route,” I said to myself (okay, maybe I said it aloud). Sitting at a standstill, I glanced impatiently at Prissy’s projected arrival time. Realizing at this point that I might not make it in time for the service, I internally started to panic. My mind began to debate whether Prissy did, in fact, know what she was doing.
In my panic, I phoned my friend who grew up in Athens. My trusted pal handed me the bad news: I wasn’t going to make it in time, and I wasn’t going in the right direction! My heart sank. Stupid, Prissy! I decided she was going to be sold at auction immediately upon my return.
Thankfully, my friend and I sorted out where I needed to go. She e-mailed me directions (praise God for the iPhone) and traffic started to move along. I was back in business. Relieved that I had solid directions and my car was actually moving in a forward direction, my heart began to lighten a bit. I started singing again even though I was going to be late for the service.
I’d love to tell you that it was smooth sailing from that point forward, but alas, that wasn’t what God had in mind.
The directions instructed me to take a road and follow signs to the University of Georgia. Along the road I was on, there were no signs for the University of Georgia or Athens. However, I was in a hurry (though I’m not sure why at this point, since I was already going to be at the very least 20 minutes late for the service), so I didn’t notice. It wasn’t until I began to pass landfills that I realized I probably needed to touch base with my friend once again to make sure I wasn’t lost. Guess what?! I was.
As I was talking to my guide, we began to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. But deep down inside, I wanted to cry. I became overwhelmed because I wasn’t going to be there for my friend who had been there for me when my daddy died and that I had shared every major life moment with for the last twenty-something years. I felt stupid for not asking for directions before I left. I felt like an idiot for not being able to follow the ones that I did have. I was afraid that when I did finally get to the service, my friend would be gone, thinking that I hadn’t been there for her. I was afraid if they were still there, they would look at me like I was crazy for being so late. I was overcome with the desire to go directly to where I was spending the night, hide there, lick my wounds and regroup. Not knowing if I should laugh or cry, I opted for the former since the latter would mess up my makeup and I had resolved to go, even if no one was there.
I am happy to say that I did finally make it to the park – an hour late! But I did do what I set out to do, which was to see my friend, hug her tight, tell her I love her, and cry with her. That was my mission, and praise God, it is what I accomplished.
So what are the lessons God taught me on this journey?
Lesson 1: God sends us out on missions. Sometimes they are exciting and fun, and other times they are somber tasks. When God gives you a mission, you have to resolve to see it through regardless of your feelings, set-backs, or mistakes along the way.
Lesson 2: Be careful who you trust when you need to get to where God is leading you. Friends, family and trusted advisors may be well-intentioned, but only God knows the way.
Lesson 3: At the very beginning of the journey always ask directions from someone who knows the way. God knows the right path to take – every time. He sees the big picture and can help us avoid things that will slow us down and frustrate us.
Lesson 4: Pay attention. Check in with God before you take a road that looks like it’s the right one. So many times, we think that because something looks good that it’s the road God wants us to go down. We get in a hurry and go too far down a road that God never intended us to be on.
Lesson 5: If you make a choice and something doesn’t seem quite right, before you take another step, check in with the Almighty. God’s shown me this year that He throws me breadcrumbs to let me know that He and I are on the same page. If I begin to notice He hasn’t given me a breadcrumb in a while, I stop and regroup. Just like I phoned a friend, we have the ability to phone a Friend who knows exactly how to get us back on course, no matter how many mistakes we’ve made.
Lesson 6: Enjoy the ride. Sing not only when things are going well, but sing when they aren’t.
Lesson 7: God’s timing to get us where we are going isn’t always what we think it should be. He teaches us through each mistake, and He tests our resolve through frustrations and delays.
Lesson 8: Don’t panic. God knows what He’s doing, even if your navigation system does not.
Lesson 9: Don’t give up until you get there!
Grateful for His leading,