God’s Our GPS: Hope for the Lost and Directionally Challenged

I’ve spent most of my life confused. Extremely. Confused. The vast majority of the time I blame my dyslexia. You see, in my kaleidoscope brain, numbers and letters whirl out of order faster than a Vegas dealer shuffles a deck of cards. I’ve learned to deal with it, expect when it comes to following directions.

Trust me, you do NOT want to follow me on a road on a trip. Save yourself. Those hapless people who’ve insisted I lead a car caravan (because I was the only one compulsive enough to print turn-by-turn directions) have bitterly regretted the mistake. Yeah, it’s all fun and games until we all end up lost somewhere between a nameless cow pasture and a vast expanse of cornfields. Believe me, it doesn’t matter how well the trip’s mapped out. Alls it takes is one wrong turn, and suddenly I have no idea where we are or where we’re going. Welcome to my life.

I wish my directional impairment was limited to the road, but to be honest, I find myself lost in other areas as well. One morning I woke up to find my mom coughing up blood, and this was just the latest in a long string of horrors. She’s been in and out of the hospital for years. Just then, we’d been getting ready for her fourth surgery in nine months, but then everything went off the rails. Forget the pre-op appointments. Suddenly I was dithering about whether to rush her straight to the emergency room or see if I could get her seen by her primary care physician in the next few hours.

As I dialed the hospital, hands shaking, I felt an all too familiar sensation. I didn’t know where we were at, and I didn’t know where we were going. Was this just an upper respiratory bug or something more like lung cancer? Would we be coming home from the hospital later that day with meds in hand, or would I be coming home alone, trying to explain to my dogs that Mommy was never coming back? We’ve had so many scares these last few years that, every time something new goes wrong, part of me wonders if this is it. Getting lost among endless cornfields is bad enough. It’s even worse walking the halls of a relentlessly sterile hospital not knowing where we’ll go next.

I use to deal with both life and road trips by planning everything to the nth degree. I thought if I could just plan ahead, I could somehow control my life. If I tried hard enough, I could avoid that sickeningly sweet vomit-in-your-mouth feeling that comes from not knowing where to turn. But I’ve discovered that control is just an illusion that evaporates like morning fog. One unplanned turn in the road and the heat of uncertainty just melts away all my plans. I really stink at being my own navigator. That’s why I need a GPS.

You know you’re directionally challenged when your mom gives you a GPS for your birthday. Yes, the GPS was a good idea, but it took me a long time to trust it. At first I hated this disembodied voice that presumptuously told me what to do. To make matters worse, it would order me about without telling me where we were going next. I’d want to know the whole trip ahead of time, but this blasted little box would just stubbornly say, “In 500 feet, turn right.” True, that’s probably all my dyslexia riddled brain could handle, but I still didn’t like it. I wanted answers. I wanted to know where I was going, but alls it would say was “turn right.”

Over the next several years, I waffled between using the GPS and relying on my own turn-by-turn directions. And what did I learn? Yep, Mom was right. The GPS was better. No matter how hard I tried, my directions were never as good as the GPS. You see, only the GPS always knew where I was. With my horrid sense of direction, it really took a satellite to keep track of where I was going. I needed that perspective to keep me out of the cow pastures and cornfields. Trusting my GPS didn’t always give me all the answers I wanted when I wanted them, but that trust always got me where I needed to go.

Endless hours in the hospital have taught me to rely on a different kind of GPS. I don’t always know what’s happening or where we’ll go next, but God always knows. It’s been hard learning to trust him in the middle of a crisis, when I find myself hopelessly lost, but all this uncertainty has shown me that he’s the only one with enough perspective to help me through life’s toughest messes. He doesn’t always give me the answers I want, and he certainly doesn’t give me all the answers when I want them, but, when I’m still and can feel his presence, I can detect this quiet voice inside me that reassuringly says, “In 500 feet, turn right.”

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says that he knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. It’s taken time for me to learn to trust in his plans instead of mine, but now I finally get it. God loves me, he’s looking out for me, and he alone has the perspective to see me through my most uncertain times. God is the only one who can truly be our GPS. In the end, I think that’s all that Proverbs 3:5-6 really means: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)

Take it from someone who’s directionally challenged. God knows where he’s going, and it’s worth letting him be our GPS. In the middle of all this chaos, I may not always know where I am or where I’m going, but I know I’ll never truly be lost.

Do you know someone who’s feeling directionally challenged? Encourage them by sharing this article and reminding them they’re not alone on their journey.

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