Finding Our Way

As a child, getting lost in Woolco (not a typo, and yes it dates me horribly) or Sears was my worst nightmare. As a mom, the thought of a child lost, could keep me awake most of the night. Feeling lost is scary. The unfamiliar feels threatening and the cold fingers clenched around our hearts makes it hard to breathe. Being lost isn’t just a physical condition; we can be lost but in the line of vision of a loved one, a friend, a family member. How many of us feel lost on a daily basis but we are within reach of someone we know?

Our world no longer looks like it did. We haven’t got a clue what the next step is let alone a five year plan. 

Or every day is the exact same as the one before it and we feel invisible in the mundane chores of making meals, cleaning up after kids, soothing hurt feelings or scraped knees. We are lost in the ordinary.

Perhaps, decades after walking down the aisle, the bright shiny newness of a marriage is long gone and we have retreated to our own lives and worlds. Is there a way out of invisibleness?

Hitting mid-life but feeling like we haven’t even begun to make our mark. But we’re “old” now and doesn’t the world belong to the young? Where do we go from here?

We just want someone to notice us. To invoke sense in this crazy place, called earth. So we turn to social media and post, hoping to get a bite. We try new mediations, new diets, new anything, just as long as it changes up the old. We look for direction everywhere but come up empty.  

In this quest of being found, are there answers? Or a map? A map would be really good right about now. The answer is yes.

The first part involves a belief. I found this quote one day reading. I see myself in Susan May Warren’s words. Do you see yourself?

“Because she’d refused to believe she was important to Him. She’d been trying to get his attention, but already-always-had it…She had it whether she had logged miles for the gospel and saved hundred of lives, or if she simply wiped toddlers’ noses and did mounds of laundry. She had God’s attention because she was His child.”  (P. 300, The Perfect Match, by Susan May Warren.) 

Believing we are his child and that he pays attention to us, is perhaps the first step to finding our way. For some of us, this may be the hardest step because it means dealing with a lot of lies we have believed up to now. It’s going to take some work but it’s crucial if we really want to find our way.

Jeremiah gives us the next step. 

This is what the Lord says: 

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Jeremiah 6:16

We stand at a crossroads trying to figure out which way to take. We ask everyone who passes by or maybe we keep quiet, trying to figure it out on our own. The thing is, there is only one person who knows the way, who has the map but too often, he is the last one we seek. Sometimes it’s because we haven’t trusted we’re his child to begin with. Perhaps  we’re mad at him or we want control of our lives. There are so many reasons and distractions that steer us away from him but He is our Way.

Ask for the ancient paths, which according to my NIV study bible, means the “tried and true ways of Judah’s godly ancestors.” This has worked before.

Ask where the good way is. Then walk in it. Ask, ask, walk; to find our way out of the dark, the confusion, the bitterness, or whatever else is making us feel lost or invisible. The result? Peace for our souls. And a map Home.

When You Feel Lost

I have been fascinated for the last while with the concept of being lost. I think we all feel that way at different times in our lives. It’s not usually a pleasant sensation. Being lost can trigger a host of emotions. Fear, exhilaration, sadness, depression, excitement.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, being lost. Lessons learned while adrift sometimes stick more than others. For example, if you lose your way going someplace, chances are, once you correct your path, you won’t make the same mistake again. Right?

As I’ve mulled the concept of being lost, I stumbled on some quotes.  Just as there are many emotions involved in being lost, there are also a lot of different ways to think about what being lost means.

Here are a few I like:

Fireheart – why do you cry?
‘Because I am lost,’ she whispered… ‘And I do not know the way.’ ”
p. 281 Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire

Sometimes being lost happens because we’ve lost our way. We don’t know whether to go right or left or up or down. Direction is skewed. We may have taken our eyes off Jesus and in doing so, stumbled and lost our bearings. Circumstances aren’t helping matters. They are making things more confusing. Maybe we’ve had to rethink some things and now the ground is shaking beneath us. Our foundation was built on a lie. There are many ways to lose direction and become lost.

“He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.” p. 367 Gayle Foreman, Just One Day

In this story, the traveller would go to a new city and find an area he did not know, go there and wander. He called it getting lost. At first his friend thought he was crazy but then she saw the miracle and the beauty of it. This is where getting lost is not bad. It’s an adventure. The terrain is new. Foreign. It may not be like we are used to but what’s wrong with that? It’s a chance to grow and open yourself up to new experiences, and expand your horizons. It’s a chance to explore. It’s a challenge and as you navigate your way to being found, you learn some things about yourself.

“ ‘I wasn’t lost. Just because you couldn’t find me doesn’t mean I was lost.’ ” p. 208  Kristen Heitzmann,  The Edge of Recall

There are times when other people think you are lost but you really aren’t. They may question your struggle or your direction. They may think you’re nuts. But you aren’t, you’ve just chosen a different path.

The thing I realized in all these scenarios and many others not mentioned is we are never truly, totally lost.

“Jesus can find you in the darkness.” P. 80 Dee Henderson, The Guardian

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Even when finding our way seems impossible to us, there is One who never loses sight of us. We are never lost to Him. Ever. No matter what we may have done or not done. No matter where we go. (Psalm 139)

There are many stories in the bible that talk about God seeking out that which is lost. A coin, a sheep and a son for starters. These stories mirror what God is actively doing. He relentlessly seeks us out when we are lost. In all three of the stories, the person who lost something, never gives up. They search until they find it. God will not give up. The price of the life of His Son means that God’s plan is always Search and Rescue.

He is also going to fight for us. If someone is searching for something, he will not be deterred. He will fight for the right to keep searching and he will fight for what he has lost. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” NIV Exodus 14:14

This was the message to the Israelites as they escaped from Egypt but came up against the Red Sea. The chariots of the Egyptians were chasing them down from behind. But God fought for them.

Yeah, but then they wandered for forty years, you may be thinking. Were they lost? It might seem so but God knew precisely where they were and why there were there. We may not always understand God’s plan. God used those forty years to teach them about himself, what His plans were and that ultimately, He was in control. They were not lost. They were right where they were supposed to be.

Sometimes the shake-up of going astray gives us the jolt we need to awaken to our surroundings.  We are so distracted we need that sharp intake of breath and narrowed focus that realizing we are lost, brings. Jesus knows where we are, but do we? Do we even realize we are lost? Honestly, we don’t.

Ultimately, being lost means that at some point, we have to let go of our pride and accept help. Acknowledging being lost is acknowledging that we are not in control. That in the dark, in the confusion, in the fear, in the challenge of being lost, we need a guide who can find us in the dark and take us to the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Feel Lost

And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Deut. 4:14 NIV

School’s in and routine is back in full swing.  I’m happy about it, I really am.  I enjoy knowing some semblance of what the day, week will bring.  With the onset of routine however, a glaring flaw is exposed.  You know that lost feeling that comes with change.  Yeah that’s it.  Sometimes it doesn’t ever leave.  It just stays and nags at your mind.  Do you get it too?

Maybe your little ones have gone off to school.  You have days and years of busyness with kiddos at home but now they’re off to play and learn at school.  You have the time you’ve been dreaming about since they were about a month old.   Only you can’t figure out what it was you wanted to do.

Or your children have flown the nest, soaring free, and you are alone.  No one to worry about anymore.  Maybe your spouse is around and the two of you don’t know each other very well.  The house echoes like a dark cave.

Maybe you just feel like you have no purpose.  Yeah, you have lots to do, just nothing fulfilling.  You are lost, wandering aimlessly around the house, guilt-ridden the house isn’t clean but you can’t even bring yourself to do it.  Or your job is full of nothing.  You can hardly make yourself get in the car and go everyday.

I feel that way too.  I am starting to empathize with the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for forty years.  As I’ve read their story again this summer, I found some new tidbits I never noticed before.  First of all as little kids, we were taught the Israelites were lost.  They weren’t.  God knew exactly where they were.  They did not know their destination at first.  God did.  Then they refused to go and take their inheritance.  Then they changed their minds.  God wasn’t too happy with them.  They didn’t trust Him.  Part of the reason they didn’t trust Him was they didn’t really know Him.

He wanted to teach them a few things.  He wanted to school them in how to be His chosen people.  They had, after all, been under the yoke of slavery in a foreign country for hundreds of years.  Probably safe to say that much Egyptian influence had seeped into their lifestyles and beliefs.  So they needed some time alone, away with God to learn trust and dependence, obedience and worship.  A desert is a perfect place to learn, away from the distractions and busyness of life in a populated city.

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Right off the bat, they had to put their trust in God to lead them out of Egypt.  They had to trust Moses, the leader God selected.  He parted the Red Sea for them to walk through and then drowned their enemies.  Still they doubted.  It was going to take a while for them to overcome the mindset of slavery and embrace their freedom.  It was going to take time for them to learn to trust a loving God over the threat of a whip.  Lies need to be replaced with truth.  It was going to take some time.

With their trust, He also wanted their obedience.  Not forced labour.  He gave them free will.  They had to learn how to exercise it.

He wanted their exclusive worship.  They had to get rid of all idols, the gods they knew about to know the one true God.  Why?  Because He loved them.  He wanted them to love Him back.  To know Him intimately and as long as there were mistresses in the house as idols, they wouldn’t.  Their hearts would be divided.

God knew what was best for them.  It was important that they were separate, different from the other nations.  When they got to the promised Land, they knew these things already. (Deut 4:14)

Deuteronomy 4:5-7 NIV tells us: See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

The choice to rebel was real and on several occasions the Israelites decided to take that road.  It brought division and chaos.  God means business when He gives us His Word and the people of Israel learned it the hard way.  In learning to trust, obey and worship, they were laying down their wills and acknowledging who was the one true God.

The book of Deuteronomy is a book of remembrance.  A reminder of God’s grace, His love and His majesty.  So they didn’t forget who they belonged to.

If you are feeling lost, maybe it’s a matter of perspective.  We don’t know the destination but God does.  Maybe the final stop is not really that important.  The journey of getting there, of learning trust, obedience and worship, is the most meaningful part of the journey.  Maybe it’s about laying down our wills, our rebellion and acknowledging who is really the boss of our lives.  So that when we get to our promised land, we are different from those around us.  These lessons will be imprinted on our foreheads and palms and doorposts.  People will say about us, “What other faith is so great as to have their God near them whenever they pray to Him?”