Sign on the Galveston Ferry, crossing between Galveston Beach and Jamaica Beach - Texas

Life’s too short to waste wandering the grocery store

There’s a popular stereotype that men hate asking for directions. Sitcoms have played with the concept for years, and in many instances it’s true. I don’t really know any guys who will voluntarily ask for directions. But it’s not just limited to men. I hate asking for directions. I’d much rather find my own way.

As I was posting about how poor my sense of direction is yesterday, I got to chuckling about my own proclivities to wander around until I find landmarks that look familiar. Would it be easier to ask someone which way I should go? Absolutely. But do I do it? Absolutely not! I won’t even ask for directions in a grocery store. I’d rather find it myself, even if that requires that I spend a lot more time and effort.

Maybe that’s pride. I don’t know. And maybe spending too much time looking for peanut butter isn’t a big deal, but if you get into the habit of refusing to ask for directions in the small things, it won’t be long before you refuse to ask for directions in bigger things.

Sign on the Galveston Ferry, crossing between Galveston Beach and Jamaica Beach - Texas

Sign on the Galveston Ferry, crossing between Galveston Beach and Jamaica Beach, Texas

Today’s verse is Psalm 25:12.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
    He will show them the path they should choose.

I hate asking for directions for anything. Does anyone else feel that way? I don’t know if that’s a pride thing or not, but that’s me. I want people to know that I’m not high maintenance, that I can figure things out on my own without bothering them. So I’d rather not ask for directions, especially if it’s something I can think through logically.

However, there are some things in life that nobody can figure out. Sometimes things happen to us that don’t make sense without asking for God’s help. We get hurt. People we love get hurt or sick. We lose our jobs. We face all sorts of trials and tests and challenges, and if we refuse to ask for God’s direction at times like that, there’s a good chance we’ll take a wrong turn.

It’s not that we’d be hopelessly lost. No one is hopelessly lost when it comes to God. But we may end up making a lot more trouble for ourselves if we insist on going our own way. And it’s not that we don’t want God in our lives. We just want to make our own decisions, we want to go our own way, we want to do things ourselves. And on one hand, I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with that. But think about the toddlers who insist on dressing themselves before they know how. They end up with clothes on backwards and shoes on wrong. Not dangerous but kind of silly. But how often are independent-minded toddlers satisfied with just dressing themselves? They want to do everything, and they want to do it on their own. Sure. Cute. But what would happen if you let that toddler drive the car or walk to the store or work in the kitchen?

A parent who lets their little child do things like that wouldn’t be called a very good parent. Why? I mean, aren’t you supposed to encourage independence? Aren’t you supposed to let kids explore who they are? Well, I guess. But is it a good idea to let them experience things they aren’t ready for, things they don’t understand? Of course not. A toddler driving a car? That’s a terrible idea! Not only could they get themselves killed but they could hurt other people around them.

Are we so different when we demand to live life our own way in spite of listening to what God has told us?

Refusing to listen to God is pride. Refusing to accept God’s directions, even though they’ve been plain to us, is pride. And pride is always dangerous, no matter what form it takes. If you’re refusing to take God at His Word because you think you know better, you’re just asking for trouble.

So stop fighting Him and start listening. Trust me, it’s not as bas as you think. And it really is a time saver. God wants the best for us. He’s not trying to squash our fun. He just wants to prevent us from making mistakes that will plague us for the rest of our lives. The good thing about asking for directions is that you can get where you need to be faster. You can accomplish more. Isn’t that better? After all, life is really too short to waste time wandering around the grocery store searching for peanut butter when all you have to do is ask for it.

Random dirt road somewhere in the jungle, Peten, Guatemala

Directions from an outdated map

I love Google Maps. Without it, I would be lost–well, literally. I am directionally challenged, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As far as I’m concerned, the hood of the car always points north, so if you tell me to turn any direction (north, east, south, west) I won’t have any idea which way I’m supposed to go. I laugh when people ask me for directions because if they only knew how discombobulated I am all the time, they’d never ask me how to get from point A to point B.

Before I give anyone directions, I usually always Google it so I can tell them north, south, east and west–because most of the time the people who ask me for directions understand that, even if I don’t. Oh, the irony! But have you ever tried to give directions from an outdated map? That’s a foreign concept to most people now because of Google Maps and other digital navigation services, but there was a time when you had to rely only on paper maps. And if your paper map was wrong, you were going to be in a heap of trouble.

Random dirt road somewhere in the jungle, Peten, Guatemala

Random dirt road somewhere in the jungle, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Isaiah 48:17.

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is good for you
    and leads you along the paths you should follow.

The trouble with asking for directions is that many times you have to wait for an answer. Especially if you ask me! You have to wait for me to look it up on Google Maps!

Life directions aren’t all that different from navigation. And it’s usually a good idea to ask someone who knows where they’re going for directions, but no matter who you ask, you still have to wait for an answer. And I get tired of waiting. And when I get tired of waiting, I strike out on my own. I’m a pretty resourceful person, so going my own way isn’t exactly a challenge at first. But the difficulty with following your own map is that it’s not up to date.

You can follow your own rules, follow your own directions, follow your “heart” or whatever you want to call it from dawn until dusk and you’ll end up going in circles because the core of who we are inside is lost.

We’re born lost. Some of us just won’t admit it. Like somebody in a grocery store who won’t ask where the peanut butter is–of course they know where it is, they just want to walk the length and breadth of the store three times to find it. Right?

Admitting that we’re lost takes humility. I don’t know why. It just does. Even knowing that I’m not the world’s best with directions, I don’t like admitting that I’m lost when I’m out on the road somewhere. I want people to think I know where I’m going. I want people to think I’m a good navigator, a careful navigator, that I’m smart enough to find my way around when I don’t have a map.

But navigating life is a little different from navigating a grocery store. There are similarities, yes, but the stakes are higher. With one, the biggest risk you take is going home without your peanut butter; with the other, you risk the blessings you haven’t received yet.

God has told us everything we need to know about how to get where we’re going, and the beautiful thing about the Bible is that it’s never outdated. Unlike Google Maps, it doesn’t need to be updated. The Bible has the directions we need. We just need to listen to them. God teaches us what is right and good through Scripture. He leads us down the paths He wants us to take. But He never forces us to go against our will. We have to choose it still. You’ve heard the expression about leading a horse to water? I’m pretty sure that’s what God does for us. He leads us to the crossroads, tells us what we need to know to make the right choice, and then leaves it up to us to decide which path.

Some choices aren’t that clear cut. Sometimes you have two good choices. But more often than not, you have a right choice and a wrong choice, and if you’ve listened to the Bible, you’ll know the difference. But choosing the right over the wrong isn’t always easy. It’s better, but it’s not easy. And of course, you’re free to do whatever you’d like, even if you’re a Christ follower. You don’t have to follow the paths God has laid out for you. You don’t have to use God’s directions as you navigate this life. You can make it up as you go, if you want. But if that’s what you choose to do, you should remember that you really don’t know where you’re going.

Have you ever tried to navigate using both Google Maps and Mapquest? More often than not, the directions they give you aren’t the same. True, you’ll eventually get to your destination, but one way is better. One way is faster or avoids more road construction or takes into account the type of neighborhood you’re driving through. And if you try to take one set of directions and use it alongside a different set, you’re just going to end up confused.

So stick with one direction provider. Just make sure it’s someone who really does know where they’re going. And if they don’t know either, make sure they know who to ask.