Summary: What happens when you do not have a map for your faith journey?
What if we viewed our faith journey like a road trip? A few weeks ago, I was busily preparing for my journey to North Carolina. I programmed the destination in my GPS, fueled up the truck (yes, I said truck), checked where construction delays were, and of course made sure I had snacks and caffeine for my trip. Can this road trip, and other trips, help us understand our faith journeys? The answer is yes, and I’d like to begin this series with a common road trip occurrence which is being lost without a map. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been somewhere and you forgot the map, or your GPS signal goes flat and you are lost? If the answer is no, wow I’m impressed. However, what happens in your faith journey when you are lost without a map. Lets go to the wilderness with Jesus and find out.
The critical map for us is scripture for it guides our paths on our faith journey. If you are wondering about an aspect of your faith journey, consult scripture. If you are trying to discern something, an exit if you will, consult scripture. If you are trying to find your way back to 81 and the road is turning into a dirt road, consult scripture. Jesus, on his journey in the wilderness, quoted the map of scripture for all of his responses to the devil. And notice he did not go off the road of faithfulness to God. He also did it without a book. Friends, we have memorized directions. I can find my way to Asheville without a map, I can find my may to the local Chik Fil A without a map, and I certainly can find my way to Gettysburg without a map. I’ve memorized the directions. So, it makes sense to me to memorize scripture as well for it gives you an internal map, an internal compass if you will to deal with life when you are lost without a physical map or GPS.
But wait, there is a catch here. I’m sure there have been many times when you and a loved one had a map debate. My parents used to debate all the time about the route we needed to take to somewhere. This was actually kind of scary when we were flying down 95 at 70 miles per hour in a Ford Granada. I don’t know about you, but I tend to have debates with the GPS. It will say something like turn right, and sometimes I’ll answer, “no I’m taking the back way”, and then have to deal with consistent cries of rerouting. As seen by the temptation of Jesus, we need to be careful for while we use scripture for our roadmap, the reality is the devil, the great lier and deceiver, knows scripture very well and will use it to pull us off the road of our faith journey. The devil said to Jesus in verse 6, “for it is written.” Yikes. It sort of reminds me of my kids who always tell me that this or that exit is the right one to take because it is shorter but the reality is there is a store they want to go to there. Friends, the devil knows scripture, probably better then you or me, and will use it to make you lost. So, when scripture is giving you directions, confirm those directions with other Christians for not doing so can make the car go on the wrong path. It reminds me of when the GPS took us right through downtown Harlem to avoid the traffic getting on the George Washington Bridge. Not a good idea. Make sure it is God speaking to you via scripture not the enemy.
Another point might be somewhat controversial. We are getting over programmed in our society thanks to technology. If I have an appointment in Camp Hill, the calendar in my phone reminds me of it, gives me exact directions to the place, and even tells me if there is an accident or construction on 81 and how to avoid it. It’s a good thing, but it can create an issue for usually we no longer get lost. And not getting lost is a shame for we no longer get the chance to rely on others for directions, and we can miss beautiful vistas on the trip. I remember asking folks for directions, learning a lot about the area, and being told to see x, y, or z. So, spiritually, it might good to be lost at times. For when we are lost, when we have no idea where is up or where is down, we rely more and more on God, and in some cases beautiful vistas emerge. When I was a chaplain intern in a hospital for a summer I was so lost as I had to deal with human tragedy on a consistent basis. However, in this medical wilderness, I began to rely more and more on God, I tended to talk with God more, and I experienced the holy more as my own strength was certainly not enough. And vistas began to open like the holiness of sitting with a lady holding hands in silence who was just hit by a truck, or speaking Russian to a patient, calming him down as no one spoke the language, and listening to a person’s deepest pain as they began to heal from a trauma that happened years ago. But all of this happened when my map of a controlled life was thrown away and replaced with listening to and moving to the prompting of God. And the vistas were unreal.