Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lost? or Off Track?

One of the things I both enjoy, and gather my courage to accomplish, is to walk.
My blind friends insist no one should think being able to walk is amazing. Of course blind people can walk, it's our eyes that don't work, not our legs. Being skilled, trained, and equipped to walk though, is one of the things that makes getting around alone in the dark a challenge. We can't get offended when people admire the skill if we had to be specially trained to do it. Once again walking isn't amazing, learning how to get around in what is a frightening environment is pretty cool.
Which is the point I wanted to make. Being born, growing up, making a good life, becoming a good person,  and leaving behind a legacy are not in and of themselves amazing accomplishments. Doing it in a world where men, religions, books, the internet, and the rampant presence of evil tries to stop you is pretty cool.
All of us live in the darkness to some extent. We all start down a familiar path for the first few steps. However the farther we get from home the more treacherous, dark, and confusing the surroundings get. Some thing small distracts us. A pretty scene. A beautiful song, A flash of sparkling enticement off in the distance. By the time we put our attention back on the path the recognizable may be gone. The sun has shifted from your face to your back. Did you turn around, or is it later in the day than you thought?  Did you point your feet off into the wooded hills, or did your paved path turn treacherous?
For me, not knowing if I'm lost or just off track can make the difference between back-tracking a dozen blocks to the last point where I knew I was in the right place, or simply turning a corner and walking further than I thought I needed to go.
I have done both. I headed East into a snowstorm for eight blocks because I got off the bus at 400 West, instead of 400 east. I was lost. Luckily for me, I knew the direction I needed to go, I only needed the courage to fight the storm while I went there. Yesterday I came back from having my blood drawn and found myself on an unfamiliar street. The dogs that always barked when I passed by were silent. The fumes and sounds of the auto body shop next to my house were missing.
That cold sense of dread with which I faced that snow storm filled my heart. The last place I knew I was on the right road was four blocks backward and consisted of a round-a-bout. Orienting myself from there would be a challenge.
My thoughts first went to the long walk back to the round-a-bout, and then to how I would find the right direction when the whole point is to go around and around in circles like a hamster.
I paced up and down the street for a moment, cursing the street planners, the British for coming up with the stupid system, and myself for getting distracted by a phone call. I know I can't talk on the phone and walk at the same time. What was I thinking?
Once I'd beat myself up for being so stupid, I listened a little harder. There was a person working in someone's yard.
Feeling like an idiot is one thing, proving it to an innocent by-stander is another. I was lost though. He could at least tell me how far back I had to go. Swallowing my pride, a basketball sized tidbit by the way, I asked for directions.
It turned out I wasn't lost, I was simply one block east of where I thought I was. With the by-standing gentleman's simple course correction, I knew exactly where I was within a few steps.
My goal in life is similar to this experience.
Stay on track the best I can. Recognize when I've lost focus. Learn from my mistakes. Make course corrections.
Life will present side-roads, round-a-bouts, and detours that you don't want to deal with. You can sit down on the side of the road, cry, freeze, die, or find help.
Search for light, wisdom and knowledge from your fellow travelers just make sure their heart's are set on going to your destination. Trust that lost or off-track, there is a way out. Most importantly, don't be afrain that unfamiliar territory means your off-track. Trust the God that sent you here to guide you back. He knows where, why, and how close you are to home. He will never leave you to wander in the darkness unless you refuse to take his hand.
It doesn't matter if you're lost. It doesn't matter if you're off-track. It doesn't even matter if you're just afraid of unfamiliar territory. God is beside you, and what On EARTH could ever matter more.

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