Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting from Here to There

Peering out, I see a vast landscape below - wrinkled, rumpled, and worn - spreading out in all directions as far as I can see.
Appearing as a patchwork quilt, some of it has been cultivated; circles, squares, and rectangles clearly indicate patterns of tilling, planting, and irrigating.
Some of it is wild and untouched - or nearly so - hills and mountains with rugged edges descending into steep canyons or wide valleys.
 Throughout the cultivated land, and less so through the wild, run narrow, winding roads, appearing much like pencil lines drawn at random.
We know that they really are not random, but only appear that way from the air. They each serve a function - most of them, at least - to lead you and me and others from here to there.

As I study these myriad, meandering pathways, the thought occurs to me that we really often have no idea where we're going.

We usually know where we begin our journey and where we want it to end, but no way can we see the entire route. From my vantage point high above, I can easily see the long-range route of each path - the straight, level sections, rolling hilly parts, steep winding curves, and sometimes the dead ends. All of this may be apparent to those who travel those ways frequently, but for others the finding is in the traveling.
And even if someone were to view their chosen route from high above, carefully plotting their course, the reality of traveling there might be entirely different.

For there are always the unknowns - detours, alternate routes, unforeseen obstacles, unplanned changes, sudden disruptions, and other things we never imagine.

And so it is not always a simple matter to get from here to there.

Is this not much the way our lives are - simply trying to get from here and now to there and then?  We all know it is never that easy, for our chosen paths are not always straight, smooth, and even.

Some of us know exactly where we want to go, carefully choosing a direct route that should get us there with a minimum of time and trouble.

Others of us have no idea where we want to go, daily muddling through and taking whichever turn in the road looks like it might lead somewhere, anywhere at all.
Those who plan carefully may be in for surprise route-changes on the way. Those who wander may stumble onto a route that takes them to a place they never thought they'd be.
Most of us probably think it's better to plan ahead, but there really are no guarantees. Much of our road in life is simply unknown.
So what are we to do? There is an African Proverb that says If you don’t know where you're coming from, you don’t know where you're going.” It is best to figure out where we are now before plotting a course for the future. Weighing our options is always a good idea, as is getting some advice from others who might have taken the same route.

It can be a lonely journey, so we mustn't forget to ask for directions and help when we need it. Together, we can step boldly forward in faith, but we must have some idea of where we want to go. For, as Lewis Carroll wrote: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."


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

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it" 
            Isaiah 30:21

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