I am a girl who likes to know where I am and where I’m going. There are few things that evoke more panic in me than being lost does (one of those things is being stuck in an elevator, naturally). In the olden days, when Emily and I worked together in a suburb of Cincinnati and had flip phones and no GPS, I would constantly call her to give me directions – unlike me, Emily has an excellent sense of direction and always knows where she is. Most of the time, she knew where I was, too.
I was reminiscing about that GPS-less existence last week when I attended an event in Cincinnati. I had gone there after dropping the kids at my sister-in-law’s house just a few blocks away from mine, but I was picking them up at yet another sister-in-law’s house 20 minutes east of my own home. As I sat in my van getting ready to start the long drive to pick up my kids, I tried to decide which route to take.
I could just go the way I came, and then head east when I get downtown, I thought. There’s probably a shorter way, but I’m not familiar with the roads it will take me on, I’m sure. I don’t know what to expect. There could be construction or delays.
I put my brother and sister-in-law’s address into my GPS and sure enough, it would take me 20 minutes less to get there if I took the unfamiliar route. It was way shorter in distance and time, but I was still uneasy. Because I honestly believe I have never in my life traveled the section of highway and subsequent back roads I was about to take to get to my children. These roads were completely unknown to me. They were known to whatever magic satellite in the sky communicates with my GPS and thousands of other people, but not to me.
You’re an insane person. I told myself. It’s 20 minutes shorter. It’s the way everyone goes from where you are now to where you need to be. Trust in the magic satellite and get on your way.
Apparently I am good at giving myself motivational speeches, because that’s exactly what I did. I followed my GPS’ instructions. I traveled an unfamiliar highway and subsequent backroads. I passed exits and towns I’d never passed before. And I arrived, safe and sound, in a very timely manner.
But while I was driving, I felt a voice inside me, not my own, telling me, “You are living a metaphor, girl. Sometimes I ask you to follow the unknown road. You don’t always have to see what’s ahead of you. You just have to trust that I will give you the directions, and then you have to follow them.”
Instantly a verse sprang to mind; a verse I memorized long ago and which both my big kids have memorized for school as well. It’s one I can rattle off without a thought, which is sad because there is no point to rattling off scripture without a thought. There should be lots and lots of thoughts devoted to it. But anyway. It’s Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.
I have friends that are this very week embarking upon their own unknown roads. Some are homeschooling their kids for the first time and others are pursuing adoption and they can’t even believe they’re doing it because “WHAT? ME? No way!” – they never saw themselves going down this unknown road. But they are not leaning on their own understanding of what they thought their lives were going to be like. They are acknowledging that God’s ways are not their ways and they are trusting in His promise that the unknown road will get them to where they are supposed to be. They are following something much better than the most high-tech GPS – something real but unseen. Kind of like a loving, gracious, powerful, infallible version of the magic satellite in the sky.
Although I didn’t encounter any bumps on the literal unknown road I took a couple of weeks ago, I do know that God doesn’t promise that our paths will always be easy when we follow Him. Our paths will often be rough…but they will be straight. And they will lead us to where we are supposed to be. And if we trust in Him, that’s all we really need to know.
Have you ever put one foot in front of the other on the Unknown Road? I’d love to hear about it.