I am directionally challenged. I get my rights and lefts mixed up so I lose my way regularly. Even with Google maps and a GPS, I can get twisted around and temporarily lost.
Last week I lost my way at the 4-mile community Walk for Hunger. I didn’t worry when I lost the map because I knew I could follow the crowd of purple shirts.
The trouble was I started late and was at the back of the pack with the children doing a slow mile. I enjoyed being with the children . . . until their 1-mile was over and I couldn’t see any purple.
“They went down that-a-way,” one bystander said.
“Go straight and you can catch them on their way back up,” another called to me.
I chose straight, eventually finding the green ribbon markers, and I marched my way along looking ahead for purple shirts. Through town, down a long stretch, up a hill, around the lake . . . ah, finally! I sighted some purple.
As I got closer, I saw it was a water stop. The purple shirt people yelled and clapped for me.
“Congratulations! You’re the first one!”
My going straight had cut off a 2-mile loop.
I laughed so much as I finished that race.
But one time I got lost it wasn’t at all funny.
Years ago Jake and I were on a backpacking trip with students. Jake had sent the group hiking up Heartbreak Ridge to camp at Star Gap. He and I finished organizing at the bus, when something happened. I can’t remember what offended me but I do remember being super-miffed at Jake.
Without a word, I pompously shouldered my pack and power-walked up the trail.
I’d hiked there before. I knew the way. Creek crossings. Switchbacks. No problem.
So I trudged along, fueled by anger, not paying attention, then…. Wait . . . what happened? Where did the trail go? I looked all around and could find no trace.
I was completely lost. (I figured later I’d followed an animal path.)
It was late afternoon, getting dark in the woods. I’d read that when one is lost in the mountains, it is best to sit and wait for help.
So I sat, in the thick sloping woods, thoroughly disgusted with myself and frightened at the thought of being alone all night long.
An hour went by, then two, maybe three. Then I heard Jake calling my name. He’d hiked up to Star Gap and never saw me, so he dropped his pack, got his flashlight, and ran down the ridge to find me.
Oh, the joy of being found.
I am directionally challenged not just physically. When my pride or selfish ambition or fear take over my soul, I lose God’s way. Even with His Word and His Spirit, I get twisted around and sometimes lost in my sin.
Sometimes I need to press on, looking for other ‘purple shirt’ believers, following the markers, doing the best I can.
Other times I need to sit and wait.
Jesus always comes searching.
Oh, the joy of being found.