I am, and have always been, geographically challenged. It doesn’t take much for me to get disoriented, as I proved again recently.
The other day, to help our daughter increase her learner driving hours, she drove us to have lunch in a town an hour away from our home in regional Victoria. In my head, our destination was north. I’d come to this conclusion due to the fact that we’d driven over the Murray River into NSW to get there. It made sense to me.
The restaurant we chose for lunch featured a giant map of the region in its foyer. While we waited to be seated, I looked at the map to find where we lived, then searched north to pinpoint the town we’d driven to. I couldn’t find it.
Exasperated, I asked my husband, “Where are we on this map?”
He pointed to a big red dot nowhere north of where we live, in fact not even east of where we live, but south-east! I looked at it in confusion for some time, trying to process how, if we’d crossed north over the river, we weren’t above our home on the map. How could we be significantly below it and to the right? How did that work?
David patiently reminded me that shortly after we crossed the river we had turned right. I knew that, but it still didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t seem as if we had turned enough to end up where we did.
I’ve been mulling over — with some frustration — my inability to easily understand this. But while I freely admit I often get confused with directions, I think this is what happened.
While we were driving along we made many minor adjustments in direction along the way. A little bit here, a little bit further on there and a little more later — and all these little bits added up to make a significant change in direction.
How true is this in life, too? I thought about the times when we intend to head in one particular direction, but arrive somewhere else entirely different. We can be left wondering how on earth we ended up there.
Subtle changes in direction can add up and take us by surprise and we need to be on our guard for anything that can take us away from the path God intends for us. It reminds me of a verse in the Bible: “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23, verse 3).
Another translation puts it this way: “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.” It is like a pause and gentle realignment to God’s path.
We need to check in with God regularly to make sure we’re heading in the direction he wants for us before we get too far off the track.
Belinda Davis serves as a Salvation Army officer (minister) in Mildura (Vic.).