I still remember thumbing through my parents’ atlas as a young traveler. When we would make the long hike to Florida, I would study it for hours (because what else are you going to do in a van for 20 hours (or more) besides fight with your sister or play foot races on the ceiling with one of your bffs? true stories.) always knowing what state we were in, what town we might hit next and where I’d like to travel when I grew up.
When I was in my early twenties, MapQuest found its way into our lives and we had the amazing benefit of plotting our route online and printing it so we could just refer to a couple of pages worth of step-by-step instructions vs. heaven forbid! finding our way via the web of interstates and side roads noted on the 16x20ish pages of our then fairly-worn atlas.
Rest assured, though, I could pretty much get from point a to point b without too much trouble. I’d always been paying attention as we drove along. So I didn’t know what to do with myself when we got our first GPS. I actually felt a little … lost. I couldn’t see the whole route at once and it was a bit unnerving. I was hesitant to believe that Shaniqua (I named her so I could feel like we had more than a human-computer relationship) could always get us to our destination. Could she even see the whole route? Was she guessing? It felt like a loss of control and I didn’t like it goshdarnit.
Now that I’m in my late twenties, fine, early thirties, I use the Maps app on my iPhone to plan my routes. It’s easy, typically correct and aside from draining my battery while in use, gets me where I need to go without a need to pre-plan much of anything. And, as a friend of mine were chatting about this week, youngsters these days don’t know anything else. They’ve either always had a chauffeur or a phone dictating their route so they’re pretty much clueless on directions. It’s beyond my comprehension. I have to know my route to some degree. Heading out into the unknown without at least an overview just scares the bejeebers out of me.
I thought about this today as my phone led me about a half mile past where I was to turn for a party a friend was throwing for her husband’s birthday. It was a totally new route for me and I was trusting my phone to get CJ and I there safely and quickly. I’d seen a sign but was hesitant to turn in because I hadn’t gotten the “turn left in 1/2 mile … turn left … re-routing …” notification. When my phone did indicate a left turn was required, all I could see was a giant barn and some silos … it didn’t appear to look like the photos of the winery I’d seen online. I silently cursed her and turned around and into the drive where I’d seen the sign. And straight to my destination.
Just like that old, now raggedy, atlas, we have a set of instructions that will guide us on our way and just like that atlas gave me such an appreciation and sense of clarity for the journey before, I think God’s word can do the same for us now. You start there, right? The pages are like a map, showing us the way. It’s the foundation. Then, we can use those supplemental things to get us through along the way but just like that sign on the side of the road triggering that ‘hmm, maybe I should turn there’ thought earlier today, having that foundation will always lead us back to where we’re really supposed to be headed. Because just like I found today, we humans, and even our technology, are only so good at figuring out stuff on our own.