I put my trust in Google Maps and it let me down…
I had planned it all so carefully- checking the route in advance, printing off the section of the map I needed, memorising the basic directions…
All was going well… until I realised I had been directed down a road which no longer existed!
I tried to find another way through, but it took me off the section of the map I had printed and before long I was completely lost!
This was in the days before I had a smartphone so, trying to fight back the panic, I stopped and asked for help. I asked three different people: one had no idea, one thought they knew but directed me to the wrong place, one knew the way but unfortunately, as I discovered later, they couldn’t tell their left from their right!
90 minutes later after much desperate prayer and many random turns, I finally arrived at my destination just as the seminar I was meant to be leading finished! Even worse, now that I had got there I had no idea how to find my way back out!
Life can feel like that sometimes. You know where you want to go, but finding a way to get there, or people who can help direct you, seems impossible. Where do you turn for direction?
Too often my first port of call is Google. If I have a problem, if I am facing an unfamiliar situation, or I want to find out more about a potential opportunity, my default is to search for information- to look for advice and insights from others who have experienced something similar, or to hunt for the knowledge I need to know the right way forward.
Sometimes that can be helpful but, as I discovered that day in the car, Google is not completely reliable.
I am reading through the book of Nehemiah at the moment and one thing that has struck me is that in a difficult and unfamiliar situation, where Nehemiah is uncertain about the way ahead, his first response is to turn to God.
“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT)
Obviously Google wasn’t an option back then but, even so, the message comes across strongly that it is not human wisdom Nehemiah is seeking, but God’s.
It seems that Nehemiah prays for 4-5 months before he finally speaks to the king about the matter that is troubling him and asks for help to put it right!
What follows is an amazing story of Nehemiah being granted great favour by the king, and travelling to Jerusalem to rebuild the ruined city. He perseveres through fierce opposition to motivate the people and see the task through to completion. It is a lot of hard work but prayer is the foundation, and that is ultimately what enables Nehemiah to succeed.
His story challenges me to cultivate that same attitude. As Joyce Meyer puts it,
“Let prayer be your first response, not your last resort.”
Human wisdom may fail us- eventually it will fail us- but God’s wisdom will always lead us in the right direction and get us where we need to be.
As I set off to go home that day I got horribly lost, I still had no idea of the route I had to travel, but there was one crucial difference- I had a guide. Someone who was heading in my direction had agreed to drive in front of me and lead the way until I was back on the roads that I knew. All I had to do was follow, so I did, and eventually I made it home!
We may not always know the way, but if we know the one who does and we follow his lead it will be all right in the end. The challenge is laying down our desire for knowledge and control, and instead surrendering to him as he leads us one step at a time.
The challenge is learning to look to God before we look to Google!
“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”” (Psalm 32:8 NLT)