Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Map Master

"Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight."  Psalm 119:35

Last week, we took a family road trip / field trip to one of our favorite places -- the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.  We spent five hours wandering through the exhibits as we watched (and smelled) the various animals.  We follow the same path every time we visit -- start with the flamingos, go see the elephants, stop at the playground, and on to the monkeys!  We have the same restful (air conditioned) stops as we eat, visit the reptile house, and walk through the Bayou gift shop. 

This year, one big thing was different: Abbie is no longer in a stroller.  And so, she became what we affectionately called The Map Master.  

When you enter the zoo, they give you a paper map so you'll know where each exhibit is.  Abbie quickly took hold of the map, folded it just so, and became the leader of the pack.  She had the plan.

We were subjected to several hours of the following commands:
"Ugh... those animals are asleep, let's go."
"Those animals stink, let's see what's next."
"We don't have time for you to talk, let's go." and
"I have the map. You have to follow me."

She was so pleased that we (pretended to) let her be in charge.  As I gently turned her down each path that everyone else wanted to go down, she marched along proud to be at the head of the crowd.

At three, she never realized that her path was being directed, not by her map, but by my gentle pulling and suggestions.  She never realized that she did not have the power or control that she thought she did.  She never realized that as she commanded us to move on to another animal, we moved on because we were ready to, not because she had told us what to do.

How many times in life do we think that we are our own map masters?  How often do we think we know just which path we should take?  How often do we think that we don't have time for the things going on and are ready to rush on to the next stop on our life map?

What would have happened if I had allowed Abbie to make all the decisions at the zoo?  Would we actually have stopped  to see any of the animals or just walked in circles?  How quickly would we have become lost because, well, she's three, and she can't read?  She needed me and her brothers and sisters to make sure that she was on the right path.

In life we too can create our maps.  We can decide all of the things that we want to do.  We can decide all the places we want to go.  We can plan and plan and plan.  But in that planning, we would be wise to stop and ask for some direction.

I'm a planner.  I like to organize and sort things.  I like to make charts and lists of things that need to be done.  But sometimes that planning puts me ahead of where I need to be in the grander scheme of things.  I often become lost and confused and create unnecessary havoc and chaos in my life. I struggle to stop and take a breath and let God lead me where I need to go.

When I hop in my van to take a road trip, I don't stop twice to think about putting an address into our GPS, Gypsy,  and mindlessly following the robotic instructions.  "She" gives me directions, and I follow.  But when I'm looking for direction in life, I sometimes forget to open the Bible and look for direction there.  But everything we need to know about life is there.  

I challenge you, and myself, to stop looking for the paths.  Stop trying to make all the plans.  Take a breath -- open the word of God -- and let him direct your paths. 

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6

"Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path."  Psalm 119:105