God’s Road Map
Yes, I know the reading is long. Think of it as spiritual spinach. It will do you good. If you’re like most of us you don’t spend enough time with the Bible. Here’s your chance.
While on vacation recently I finished Lee Enger’s novel, Peace Like a River. Enger is a great storyteller. His characters are interesting. They draw you in to the plot so the story carries you along. Not everything comes out the way you’d like. There’s some winning and some losing, but that’s like life, isn’t it?
The novel is about a father and his young son and daughter. They embark on a road trip to find their teenage son and brother who has been arrested for murder and escaped. Reuben, the eleven-year-old son, tells the story. On the first leg of their journey they travel from Minnesota to a friend’s house in North Dakota. As they pull into the yard Reuben ruminates on the journey that lies ahead.
“In truth I was a little scared, and preoccupied about where we’d go from here. For I had asked this of Dad the previous night, asked it straight out. Where do we go from August’s? He didn’t know. We’d simply go forth, he said, like the children of Israel when they packed up and cameled out of Egypt. He meant to encourage me. Just like us, the Israelites hadn’t any idea where they’d end up! Just like us they were traveling by faith! Indeed, it did impart a thrill, yet the trip thus far…had reminded me what a hard time the chosen people actually had of it. Once traveling, it’s remarkable how quickly faith erodes. It starts to look like something else—ignorance, for example. Same thing happened to the Israelites. Sure it’s weak, but sometimes you’d rather just have a map.”
I understand—and I believe many of you understand also. Starting a journey, especially if it’s from somewhere you’re glad to leave, or towards a goal you really want to achieve, is exciting. It doesn’t matter whether that place is geographical, emotional, relational, or some other “al,” we’re glad to be on the move. The thrill of expectation—expectation that things are going to be better—gets us on our feet and propels us from darkness into expected light. We’ve experienced the beginning of freedom, and we can’t wait for more.
Then, to use Enger’s word, erosion sets in. We realize how little progress we’ve made, and how long the road that lies ahead. Worst of all, we begin to understand how vague our destination is, so shrouded in mystery that we can’t grasp it. Faith turns to fear as we realize how little we know about what awaits us down the road.
Psalm 78 relates the story of God’s chosen people. We see them at their high point, leaving Egypt in spectacular fashion, crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, then watching Pharaoh’s army—horses, men and chariots—drown as the water resumes its flow. How could they not rejoice? How could their faith not reach its exuberant peak? This was great! God was going to lead them straight to the Promised Land.
Then erosion sets in. The realization of how little they have, how much they need, how desolate their surroundings overwhelms them, and they understand how ignorant they are of the journey ahead.
“We need a map,” we cry, along with the Israelites. “Show us the way. Let us see where we’re going.”
“Have faith,” God says. “Trust is all the map you need.” “Trust me and I’ll get you there.”
Can we trust enough to follow God’s map?