An interesting experience this weekend on the new Christchurch Belfast bypass road.
GPS has not yet caught up with the fact that after several years of planning and construction the new motorway is open. Instead of following the road, my car’s GPS showed me driving without a road to drive on across farmland. (the red arrow indicates my “lost” position)
I was in a bit of a reflective mood at the time and immediately drew an analogy.
There are times when the indicators are that I am on the wrong path in life.
What do I mean by these “indicators”?
Often these are the most visible and audible voices of public opinion, popular morality, political correctness, and even well-intentioned (but often fearful) family and friends suggesting that I need to get myself back onto a more widely accepted and well-travelled pathway.
But in the depth of my heart I know that God is leading me by a unique, personalised and therefore less-travelled route. This is not a route that wanders into wilderness but a path that is rich in integrity and abundance of life.
Even though my GPS was telling me to get back on the correct route, I was already on the right road – in fact a new road, a smooth road, a faster road, a road free of all the obstacles, cars and traffic lights through Belfast.
My GPS was telling me that I was not even on a road, but I was on the best road of all.
The question I am left with is what or who do I use as my personal life-directing GPS? How do I know which road to take through the little daily decisions and the bigger life-changing opportunities that circumstances confront me with?
I can go with the voices of the masses and follow the crowds. The cost of course is high as I exist like a cog in a machine or the metaphoric sheep in the flock.
Or I can take a moment when feeling alone on a less-travelled path to be still and silent, and to listen beneath the clamour of many voices to hear the voice of the One who loves me enough to fill every moment of loneliness and darkness.
In this intimacy with God and therefore with self I can relax and happily lose myself in Jesus’ loving embrace. Perhaps “lost in grace”?
Thomas Merton expresses it well in his Pilgrim’s Prayer:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end….
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you,
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road, though
I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem lost in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
A Pilgrim’s Prayer – Thomas Merton