The Unexpected Road

On a recent Girls Road Trip to my sister’s house on the Oregon Coast, we changed our mid stopping point to a small town about 90 minutes closer to her house. Though still several hours away, we wanted that second day to go faster! In the morning, we were excited as we loaded up the car, turned on the GPS, and drove out of the hotel parking lot. My daughter, granddaughter, and I were talking over a few items on our checklist when we pulled into the gas station a few blocks away to fill up. Having deviated from our planned course, the GPS responded with the helpful but often annoying “recalculating”. When I had to turn around yet again and maneuver to get an open pump on the correct side of the car, the repeated “recalculating” was interfering with our conversation so with a  “yes, yes we know”…   my daughter turned the volume down. Fully fueled and stocked with snacks at the ready, we pulled onto the highway and headed out of town. Chatting and settling in for the six hours ahead, we were feeling relaxed as we always do when we begin to enter the marvelous forested roads after traveling through the desert.

On approach of the next town, I glanced at the GPS  and noticed that it was going to have me turning left off the main highway but I hadn’t heard the warning.  Realizing that the volume was still down, we adjusted it and proceeded to turn. We followed the voice prompts until it became obvious that it was turning us around and heading us in the direction we had just come from. I pulled over as we sat staring down the road with the GPS telling us to basically go back 13 miles. I argued out loud with this inanimate object, clearly believing that it had somehow gone awry. My daughter and I discussed our options and decided that we would keep moving in the direction we had been going because, after all, we had no interest in going back to where we started. My trusty GPS that had navigated me safely throughout years of travel in unfamiliar cities all across the United States, had suddenly malfunctioned. I grabbed my new smartphone, pulled up the GPS feature, entered in our final destination, and had it begin our route from our current location. It confirmed my suspicions that the other was faulty when it had us heading in the direction we were previously traveling.

After awhile, my daughter and I both noticed that absolutely nothing looked familiar. We traveled this road almost every year and were suddenly feeling lost. She called her dad and after exchanging information, they pieced together where we actually were…which was not at all where we wanted to be.

Apparently, during the time when the volume was down, I had missed a slight turn that would have put us on the correct highway. My trusty GPS hadn’t failed me after all. The most prudent thing to have done would have been to go back the 13 miles and pick up the right road when it first told me to. Driving back 13 miles was so much faster and better than what ended up happening. Instead of being able to get on Interstate 5, we hit maintenance crews several times on a two lane mountain road and had to wait on average 10-15 minutes for the sign to be turned around so we could finally proceed “S-L-O-W-L-Y”. What should have been an easy fast day turned into a very long one adding more than 2 hours to our initial arrival time plus the constant feeling of not quite trusting where we thought we were.

As we were driving (and waiting) our conversation turned to the parallels between living life and this specific journey.

How many times have we dismissed the promptings of the Spirit with a ‘yes, yes, I know…’? Do we turn down the voice of warning when we think we have everything under control, only to find that we’ve now developed a habit of not listening?

I should have trusted my old reliable GPS. It had served me extremely well for years and had never once misdirected me. I was so fast at reaching for something new instead of relying on what had always worked. I thought I had it all figured out and was quick to proclaim it wrong and broken, because it didn’t make sense for me to follow it’s direction. Going back 13 miles seemed like such a waste of time.

But it was exactly what I should have done. In hind sight, a clear road of 13 miles is so much better than 2 hours of halted driving. Even without the maintenance crews, the added time with this route was substantial. The GPS in my smartphone didn’t have the entire intended route and totally discounted going back 13 miles. It never even suggested that as a option.

While we’re sojourning on this earth, we sometimes get off the path we should be on. Maybe we aren’t paying close enough attention or perhaps we’ve made a conscious decision to wander. We may not be far off the mark yet we may still find ourselves in places we had no intention of being…and that’s not ever a comfortable place to be. However we got there, the moment we turn again unto the Lord and heed his council, we will be blessed. If we trust Him and follow where He leads, we can be sure that we are moving in the right direction. His promise is as valid to us today as it was to Joshua of old:

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5)