image: holding map

Recalculating: How to Navigate Life When You’re Lost

Ahhhh, FINALLY . . . we were off for a great weekend.

Years ago, I was asked to speak at a women’s conference. The venue was about an hour away and near some places I love to visit. I called a friend and asked if she wanted to head out early so we could enjoy some time before the conference started. She jumped at the chance!

Before moving on, there are two things you must know:

  1. I get lost driving out of my neighborhood, so I need clear directions.
  2. This event occurred years before smart phones and map apps—which means it could be difficult to find help should something happen.

That said, here’s what unfolded. We got an early start on a glorious fall morning. The drive was about an hour and a half and, as two young moms, getting away without packing up kids, bags of snacks, bottles, and diapers was amazing! We chatted, listened to music, laughed out loud, and talked about all we wanted to do when we arrived.

At one point, I looked at the clock and noticed we had been driving for more than four hours, then at the gas tank gauge which was on empty. Confused, we pulled into the next truck stop to check the map, fill the gas tank, and ask how much farther we had to go. Interestingly, the small town we were in wasn’t even on the map. We needed help. I asked the burly, bearded man behind the counter if he could help.

THIS I WILL NEVER FORGET! He laughed and said . . .

“Lady, where you say you goin’ . . . cuz if you headed east of Dallas, you gone the wrong way. You gone WEST. Looks like you got a drive ahead of you. You gotta go back through Dallas (FOUR HOURS back), then an hour and a half past Dallas, you’ll get where you wantin’ to go. Good luck. Should be ’bout sundown when you get there. Gonna hit lots a traffic goin’ through Dallas.”

Stunned doesn’t touch how I felt. So much so, I asked him three more times to explain what had happened—not because it was hard to understand but because I didn’t want to believe what he said. I was POSITIVELY CERTAIN we had gone the right way. I even showed him the map, as if showing him a map we’d followed to a T was going to change the fact we had gone the wrong way. At the end of the day, our buddy at the truck stop was spot on; traffic was awful, and we arrived as the sun was just starting to set.

Truth be told, we didn’t examine the map in detail before taking off. Had we taken time to examine it more closely, we would have been able to correct our direction. We did make it to the conference, which went well, and we learned a life-lesson in the process.

image: man with map by car

Are You in Need of Direction?

Now, you may be a whiz at directions and never get lost. But in life every one of us has a “lost” experience. By lost I mean what you expected to happen was not at all what actually happened. Here are some examples:

  • You married for life but are facing a divorce.
  • You couldn’t wait to have children but you’ve been told you are infertile.
  • After nine months of a perfect pregnancy, your child has been diagnosed with a disability or illness.
  • Just as you were entering the “empty nest” years, your mate has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • The career you worked so hard to achieve has just fallen apart.
  • You have always taken great care of your body, exercised and eaten well; the doctor just told you your test results came back positive for cancer.
  • A car accident that was not your fault caused you to lose a loved one.
  • You dedicated your child to the Lord and faithfully attended church, but your grown child wants nothing to do with Christianity.

What you expected is nothing like what you are living through today. In spite of doing what you thought was right, you’re lost. Further, those you thought you could count on for support have walked away, and you are totally alone fighting the temptation to turn from faith in God altogether.

Do these questions resonate?

  • Did anyone see this coming?
  • What on earth am I going to do now?
  • Is this really how life is supposed to go?
  • Lord, how could you have allowed this to happen?
  • If this is what you get for trusting Christ, why would I think of doing that?

It’s time to take a closer look at the map. If you are a follower of Jesus, you and I know that map is the Bible. You know what it says, and you thought you were following it correctly. Before you walk away from it all, may I be that burly, bearded guy and speak help and hope into your heart?

image: marked-up Bible

We Must Interpret Scripture Accurately

One of the most critical pieces for reframing our lives is first to reflect on what we have believed. It may help to write down what you believed about where you would be versus where you are today. After reflecting on what you believed and thus expected, closely EXAMINE what Scripture accurately says about your situation.

Reliable, easy-to-understand biblical sites are available that offer tools like commentaries that explain what a verse or passage means in the original language at the time it was written. (A reliable free online commentary is Constable’s Notes at netbible.org. Biblehub.com and Biblestudytools.com are helpful Bible study websites too. Also visit insight.org to find loads of reliable study resources.) Knowing the context of a passage or word is ESSENTIAL; the English language may use a word we assume to mean one thing when it means something else. Here are some examples:

  1. Love: In Scripture, there are four kinds of love: brotherly love, sexual or physically pleasurable love, love as in a natural affection for another, and unconditional love.
  2. Suffering: There are more than 14 different meanings to the English word suffering. Some examples include suffering related to our human, sinful condition; demonic suffering; empathetic suffering (hurting with one who is suffering); suffering due to the discipline of God; suffering due to loss; mysterious suffering that God chooses not to explain; catastrophic suffering as a result of a natural disaster; and more.
  3. Healing: In Scripture, healing may mean physical healing, the process of healing, therapeutic healing, or eternal healing which comes when we are united with Christ after death.

Without a doubt, discovering we are lost is miserable; it seems like God has completely tricked or forgotten us. Having been lost in life many times, I can promise you this: the greatest and deepest work God has done in my soul began when I was totally lost. Getting back on track takes time; it requires work, thought, study, and endurance. If you are willing to persevere, you will find God didn’t make a mistake but led you through the dark valley for a purpose you could never have imagined.

Let Me Hear from You

If you are lost, how can I help you today? If you have been lost, what helped you find your way home? Let’s connect on this together.

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